I survived my first week at Hinton as a work leader with my own work team! My project was to stain a deck. This was no ordinary deck, though. Jill led work teams last summer that built this incredible deck. It connects two trailers that each have their own porches with wheelchair ramps. It’s really cool how it all comes together, and Jill should be proud of it! I was given a work team of six high school girls, and two women adults. I thought we would be able to knock out this project and move onto another one by the end of the week, but the weather had other plans. It kept raining, and if the wood was wet, we couldn’t stain it. This is because the stain that we had was oil-based, and in order for the stain to bond with the wood, it needed to be dry. Well, Monday AND Tuesday I decided that the deck was too wet to stain. It was very discouraging, and put a damper on my go-getter attitude for the week. But looking back now, I see that it was the perfect opportunity for us to spent time with the homeowners and build relationships with them. And guess what? We finished staining the entire deck on Wednesday and Thursday! (And Wednesday was a half day.) My girls rocked!
The girls decided to name our group the “Shady Sisters,” because the work site was in a very shady area, thus the slow drying wood on the deck. My group of volunteers came from a very large church group from Georgia. I assumed that they all knew each other since they were in the same youth group, but I was wrong! They barely knew each other. So throughout the week, it was really special to see the friendships between these girls forming. As we all know, girls are mean. And I could figure out from these girls that they weren’t all in the same social circle at their schools. But on this trip, a sense of community brought them together. And I think that is what Christ calls us to do. He calls us to create community among each other, and to share His love. That is exactly what these girls did, and it was incredible to be a part of it!
To honor the Hinton Rural Life Center’s fiftieth anniversary, each group was asked to write and perform a birthday song for Hinton. On Thursday I was teaching the girls repeat-after-me Girl Scout camp songs. I don’t remember how it came up, but it was hilarious and we were having a great time. Then one of the girls had the idea to rewrite the words to one of the songs to make a birthday song for Hinton! It was perfect. I had so much fun with these girls this week, and I am so proud of them for finishing the job even though we were put behind schedule two days.
I think of all the anxieties I had before this week, and they all seem unnecessary now. I have been stuck on this idea that everything needs to be perfect. I wanted to plan out every moment of the week before my work team arrived at Hinton. I wanted to be over-prepared, so that it would be next to impossible for me to make mistakes. You know what? Worrying so much was exhausting! This week worked out beautifully, and the thing that got me through it was prayer.
I have GOT to let go of my desire for perfection in every little detail of my life! Because not only do I want to be a perfect leader, I want to be the perfect girlfriend. The perfect daughter. The perfect friend. The perfect Christian. On Sunday night, Julia preached at the worship service. She asked for each of us to think about our biggest fears. Then she asked us to think about the biggest mistake we ever made. I realized that one of my most consuming fears is failure. I want to strive for perfection, and I never want to let anyone down. I want to have the perfect past. But I don’t. Jake helped me to discover that I should not be ashamed of the mistakes that I’ve made in the past. We live in a fallen world. This world is tainted by sin. And I will only become more frustrated and experience more failure by seeking perfection in this life. This longing that I have in my heart for perfection can only be fulfilled by Christ. When I was able to realize that, those fears and worries didn’t seem so scary any more.
It is one of the hardest things to let go of the “control” that I think I have over my life. I need a constant reminder that this is all for His glory. Here at Hinton, I have a great opportunity to let God’s love shine through me so that others may see it. THAT’S what I need to work on. Not on being perfect and avoiding mistakes, like I have been so focused on in the past.
This is the part where I get all cheesy and sappy and talk about my boyfriend Jake. Last night we were reminiscing on all of the memories we have together, going back to when we first met at NC State our freshman year. We drove around for an hour or so, just talking about the past and laughing at ourselves. Jake is so different than any guy I’ve ever dated. He really knows me. Lately, I’ve been thinking about being back in Raleigh this September. I’ve been thinking about how our relationship is going to be a few months from now, a year from now. But I think I need to focus more on what’s happening now. Because what is happening now between the two of us is beautiful, even though for most of this summer we are going to be apart from each other.
Whenever I freak out (which isn’t a very rare thing), you have this way of calming me down and bringing me back to Earth. When I’m pissed off and want to hold a grudge against you, you make me laugh against my will and my walls come back down. I have this strong feeling that together we can make it through anything. And you know, I wouldn’t be happier with anyone else. Jake, you’re incredible. I don’t tell you that enough.