A friend (who I will allow to remain nameless) emailed me this morning to blog something other than quotes. I love you. Thanks.
This week is the ten-year anniversary of something very special to me. Honestly, I can't remember if tomorrow or Wednesday is the EXACT anniversary, but today marks the ten year (in time) anniversary.
Ten years ago today, I went to youth camp in Alabama.
(I know... you're thinking... "WHAT?")
This anniversary is not one that gets a card or a greeting from a friend, because the only friend who celebrated (as it were) this moment with me was God Almighty.
Ten years ago today, I had an encounter with the Living God that changed my life in ways that I cannot begin to express. I can tell you that I was eighteen. I can't remember why I decided to donate five weeks of my time to camp, but I did. The first week, I was a camper. My counselor's name was Kytha (Kathy with the syllables reversed). I don't remember where she was from, although I do remember two totally random things: 1) she had two kids, a daughter and son, and her son Jeremy wound up dating a girl from my church, and 2) she had no bladder control and peed in her pants constantly. (I can't remember why she told us all that,... probably to save embarassment I guess.) Anywho. It was the first time I'd been to camp in seven or eight years, and I was terrified. Another girl from church went with me, but Amanda was definitely her own person, so I got left behind ALOT. Believe it or not, I was excrutiatingly shy. Going to camp was so far out of my comfort zone it wasn't funny. But, I'd planned to just be a camper that week, and then work the next four weeks as a counselor. But this is not the point.
That first night is one of the more clear memories of my 28 year old life. I can remember what I wore that night, what we sung that night, and what it all smelled like. But most importantly, I remember what the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart that night. This was the first time I ever heard the chorus "I will never be the same again", and I don't find its' poignancy irrelevant or coincidental.
The girl who knelt on that altar that night and bawled her eyeballs out, even blowing her nose in her skirt, got up a changed woman. The effects of that encounter were not immediate. They took a long time to come to fruition. The promises that she heard and felt in her heart and in her spirit have not all come to pass, but that's God's timing, not hers. So much has changed in ten years, my theology, my identity, my passions, changed that night. The Crux of who I am changed instantaneously that night.
I kept that skirt for posterity for a long time, because it symbolized my night of volatile transformation and I was afraid I would forget it. But, I can't, and won't, and usually celebrate this anniversary every year.
You know, the Jewish people would make a feast out of this. Maybe I should have a "Feast of Transformation". I'll probably just have some stroganoff tonight though. Maybe some cake.
This also marks the first time I ever met Eric Freeman. (Only Alabama COG and Lee people know him.) OH, how I prayed and interceded for that man to be my husband. Oh, how foolish I was! (BTW, he's a Minister of Music and Singles ministries at a big church in South Georgia now. And he's still not married. :D ) This was the first time I ever met Jenn, although I was too scared to talk to her for a year (until Holly came), because I thought she was too cool. (Yes, Jenn, I thought you were too cool to talk to me. Turns out I was just dorky and shy.) I met alot of wonderful people during my duration at youth camp, many of whom I keep in contact with today. I learned how to "fake" speak in tongues. No, I don't EVER do that. I learned the importance of allowing people to see you for who you are, knowing that whether or not they accept you or reciprocate your feelings doesn't change your identity.
I learned more than I can ever say. I left that camp that summer changed. It took me two years to finally get to Lee after that, but I did, and well, ... here I am.
So, Happy Anniversary to me.
"But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. Though we were slaves, our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness..." Ezra 9:8-10a