21 07 2010

Sometimes I just plain rush into things.

I thought I was going to marry him…before I met him.

I mean he was black, he was around my age, he was in college at Ohio State. What else was there to discuss?

The summer before my third year in college, I was eager and nervous for my first encounter with urban ministry. I had done “A Day of Service” projects all that time in college, but I wanted something deeper, something that would stick.

So when the Urban Promise people came to UVA’s grounds and pitched the best “This summer will change your life” spiel about their Christian summer camps in urban districts all around the country, I was sold.

But I’m not a great saleswoman. I knew I wanted to do something different that summer and if I could avoid raising money for it, that it’d be even better. Well, it worked out to my favor. I had to raise eight hundred dollars, which was better than the two to three thousand mountain of funds I would have to raise for another summer ministry opportunity.

So Urban Promise it was! The next question that faced me was where.

I knew that it wouldn’t fly with my mother if I selected UP’s most popular sight in the wonderfully-safe city of Camden, New Jersey. So I tried my best to play my cards right. The least dangerous place seemed like the most random, Wilmington, Delaware.

So I was set to go. After God’s favor, I was promoted from mere intern to Assistant Director (head intern of my peers and campers). For this opportunity, I was grateful as it seemed like a huge leadership role in my first ministerial experience outside of a week’s time.

I arrived at the site early and they had no problem putting myself and my fellow Assistant Directors to work (there was one AD per camp and intern team totaling three of us).

A few days into our hard labor but days full of meaningful work and full moments of rest, we learned of who our interns would be.

That’s when I met him. Well, kind of.

My camp director sat me down over dinner and told me who I’d be in charge of and working with this summer.

Ok, so there’s John. He’s from Massachusetts. He’ll be teaching the Science class.


Me: Ok, cool.


There’s also Adam. He’ll be teaching art. He’s a little younger than you and is apparently an avid reader. He sounds like he’ll be more laid back than anything.


Me: Sounds good.


Oh! I’m so excited! We have a young lady coming from the UK to help us for a little bit. She’ll be coming a week late and leaving a week early, but she’s going to be with us for a good month or so. Her name’s Cathleen. She should be helping out with Recreation time with the teen employees.


Me: Ok, so her job won’t be too bad.


Yup. And then we have James. He went to Ohio State. I talked to him the other day. He seemed excited. He’s black you know!

Whatever my Director said after that, I didn’t hear. My mind had already rehearsed the moment we would meet, become good friends, date, then eventually marry after working out the long-distance relationship until we graduated college…

I don’t have any enlightening Biblical principle to drop on you now. I just have a funny story.

I suppose I could proof-text and tie in Peter’s rushed action and thought-process when Jesus prophesied his death in Mark 8 was speaking to his thought-process that rejected anything undesired occurring was like my hurried imagination rushing James and myself into a concrete mental relationship.

I suppose I can also proof-text how Peter’s anticipation and rushed thinking towards not the impossible nor improbable, but the necessary arrest of Jesus prompts him to cut off the high priest servant’s ear John 18 so wonderfully points out. And somehow that this event relates to my instinct to react in the manner in which I’m not supposed to assuming that our physical proximity would generate a result that if I wished hard enough would manifest itself. And if it didn’t I would have to fight to save my fantasy, wish, and silent promise I made to myself that even though I knew better, what I want has to happen.

But I’m not going to.

James never showed up. My Director never really got a reasonable explanation why not. It wasn’t a big deal to her, but it rearranged my entire summer and life’s plans.

Looking back at it now, I think his absence, God not honoring my request if you will, was an awesome thing.

I think that somehow God told James not to come because some girl imagined that through their summer together, a lifelong relationship would emerge, instead of wishing, hoping and fantasizing that the summer would bring much needed humility and dependence on God for her present strength and uncertain future.

Maybe God told James that there would be a girl imagining the wrong kind of friendship with him and that he should stay at Ohio State for his safety and her spiritual well-being.

Because if he had come, she would not see the beauty in those already around her, in the Directors, in the teen workers and adolescent campers, in the intern from the UK who immediately took to her and formulated a quick friendship, and would have been day-dreaming about something that was not supposed to be instead.  

She would have seen all the wrong things. And missed an experience that she has not to this day forgotten.

Maybe she is kind of like James and John, asking for a “let-me-sit-at-you-right-and-the-other-at-your-left-in-glory” moment when she doesn’t even know what she’s asking.

Like she’ll get it eventually, but currently doesn’t understand the sacrifice involved. Maybe she’s too selfish and immature right now for an anything. Maybe she has some growing up to do.  

It’s true. Funny thing is, I’m still growing and don’t think I’m anywhere near where I should be for the whole husband-thing.

Sigh. Sometimes fantasies speak to areas of proposed growth and doesn’t affirm the cute cuddly “dream language” we so readily attach to it. It’s more lecture speaking to potential than simply potential standing solo.

My potential isn’t patient enough to just wait and learn until she blossoms into reality.

But she’s getting there.   

Again, God’s grace is covering her.



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