I've determined that you have to willfully survive a difficult experience to truly come out on the other side of it and be able to reflect on how much you gained from going through it. And that's EXACTLY how I feel about my weekend trip to Scouts Camp in Damascus, Arkansas.
This past weekend is one of the few that my sons (the J's) have spent with me. [The weekends are usually reserved for Dad Time since we maintain separate households.] So, it took a significant amount of prayer to decide that I wanted to spend that time with them in the woods, surrounded by a lot of strangers. I can't catch up on Giggles and Hugs from The J's in the woods!
Nevertheless, me and my boys drove an hour to Camp Rockefeller in Damascus, Arkansas, for a new experience - camping outdoors on Mom and Me Scouts Weekend. The camp was HUGE, beautiful, and covered with spiders. The crew that ran it for the weekend, was a group of really committed and patient volunteers who guided, trained, protected, entertained, and fed us from Saturday Morning (8:30 am) to Sunday Afternoon. Saturday, we spent the day hiking, shooting bb's, singing, COMPLAINING (especially me), and for the most part, getting to know the wilderness.
Saturday night, it was SOOOOOOOO cold. I just cannot even put it into words.
Before I left, I knew that it was going to get down to the low 40's. But I could not imagine until I was in the moment, just now cold 40ish degrees is when you're separated from the weather by a thin sheet of mesh. OMG.
I pitched the tent near the bathrooms, so I was up all night because I was too cold to sleep, the sharp rocks below my sleeping bag were too jagged to sleep on, I heard a noise, or because someone shined their flashlight into our tent as they stumbled through the cold to the bathroom. I spent most of the night sitting up in the tent with the flashlight on, staring at my two baby boys that were under the warm blankets intertwined to stay warm. They looked so beautiful, so calm, so angelic, I just did not have the heart to wake them up. But I wanted to shake them awake, force them to hike the two miles back to the warm car, and take my butt on home. That's the reason I turned on the flashlight at 1:45am. I was DONE.
But then I heard a message from up high that spoke directly to my spirit. I KNEW that I needed to let the boys experience what we were going through. I knew I needed the reminder for myself. There was a lesson to be learned.
"It's not always easy. Sometimes the winds will blow, the tent will shake, and the rocks will scrape. You will go from being uncomfortable to downright in pain. It will be dark and you will feel like you are all alone. But it will pass. Eventually, the sun will rise, and God will give you relief."
And that's what happened. I opened the tent to watch the sun came up. It was exactly what God had promised. It brought relief.
I shed a few tears as the sun came up because I knew that there are people who live under those conditions everyday. Their situation is worse. They are hungry, poor, hopeless, sick, and did not choose the situation they found themselves in.
This morning, I came into work with a renewed spirt. I work for Heifer International. And I truly believe that the work we do makes a difference for individuals, families, and communities.
I survived. And am even more devoted to help others that are trying to survive a far more real experience than my one night Scouts Camping Trip.