Sunday, July 20, 2014

What is love? Summer lessons from eleven year olds

These past few weeks, I've been pretty busy. I went on a cruise and then proceeded to go to camp to be a counselor. Every summer since I was in, oh I don't know, 3rd grade? I've been going to this camp. Seriously, it's the best week of the year for me. I would pick hanging out with preteens and teens for one week over the beach in Mexico any day. (I know, I'm nuts.) 

During this week, I was blessed with 12 kids in my group. Between 8 boys and 4 girls, I found myself surrounded by honest, curious, and hyper little people. There happened to be one petite and scrawny boy in my group that stood out immediately on the first day. Difficult and angry, my young friend caused trouble right off the bat. Throughout the week, I picked up snippets of his life and began to understand why he was probably acting the way he was. I'm not really sure how much I can divulge on the public internet, but just to give you an idea, this child seemed to have an emotional abandonment quality to him. Innocently, he told me about alcohol being consumed everyday by his guardians. "But they're not drunks or nothin." There's so much more that would make your heart ache. 

Sometimes, the people that cause us the most trouble are the ones that need the most gentle kind of love. Love that doesn't boast, love that is kind and patient. Love that definitely isn't easily angered and love that isn't self-seeking. This young boy just needed to be shown adoration from someone. He needed to be shown that one person really cared for him. Not because they had to, but because they truly wanted to. It was interesting trying to explain to the rest of the kids in my group that even though this boy was, "really bad," he still needed to be loved. Eventually, they started to understand that the best way to handle this boy was to try and show him love. Now, I'm not trying to make some super cliche moment happen here. It's not like these eleven year olds were changing this kid's life and reaching out to him, but I could tell they started to get it. If eleven year old kids can get loving someone because they really need it, why can't we as adults do that too? What is so hard about turning a situation around? Why do we have to judge and become impatient with a person when they are struggling? I quoted above a little bit of 1 Corinthians 13. My favorite part of 1 Corinthians 13 is verse 7, "Love takes everything that comes without giving up. Love believes all things. Love hopes for all things. Love keeps on in all things." Paul pretty much covered it. If we could all just take the time out of our days to go out and love someone, our communities and relationships would dramatically change. Out of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest of these. There's a reason love is the greatest. If God can love me unconditionally, even after all the crap I've done and will do, why in the world can I not do the same for those around me? So moral of the story, before you get mad and upset because someone is making your life a little harder, take a step back and try to realize that this person may just need to be loved. (I mean, every person needs to be loved, but some of these people are the ones who need to be exceptionally loved.) I swear, if I wasn't a struggling college student, I would've adopted that kid. How lucky I am that I have had people show me grace and love throughout my life. 

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