I was reading C.S. Lewis' space trilogy a month or so ago, and something he said hit home. One of the main characters in the third book comes to the realization that he has been spending his whole life jumping from one "in" group to the next, always finding that it was not quite so wonderful as he had hoped. I have been doing the same thing. Finally I was part of that elite, prestigious group known as the resident staff at Camp Barakel. Sure, my time here was defined, and theirs was not, but I was still in. I was so excited when I received my name tag back in September. It said "Seasonal Resident Staff." I was in. Something in me said, "This is it. The big one. You've finally done it." Maybe it wasn't conscious, but it was there. More importantly, it was wrong.
I wasn't wrong about being "in". No one excluded me from anything. No one told me that though I was here, I wasn't really a part; it was just the opposite. What I was wrong about was what it meant. I was wrong about it being the pinnacle of achievement. It didn't make me superior to anyone who has not worked here for more than a summer or a weekend or two. It did not fill any kind of vacant spot in my heart. It does not change my identity in any way.
My identity is set. I am already a part of the most important "in" group in the history of the world. And what's more, I didn't do a thing to earn it, and I can't do a thing to stay in or get out. I am chosen and loved by the Creator of the world. He makes me who I am. He defines me. The reason for being part of any group is not so that I can be fulfilled. It is not so that I can feel better about myself and prop up my self esteem or pride (which is at all times both falling hopelessly and miserably unbreakable). It is to shine. It is to live out that identity that Christ has set for me.
Now all that is not to say that this has been any kind of a failure. I have enjoyed it immensely. I have learned a lot. I have grown in many ways. I think I feel a list coming on!
- I started college. Including the credits I earned retroactively through Ascent, I have finished 39 out of 63 credits for my program (Associates in Leadership and Ministry). It has been both difficult and rewarding. I spent most nights after work and days off at the office, writing assignments or procrastinating on writing assignments.
- I learned how to be joyful on a regular basis and that I have most likely had persistent depressive disorder for a lot of years (very eye opening and still a struggle, but at least now I know what I am up against and a good way to fight it).
- I learned and am still learning how to more easily accept change and see endings as new beginnings rather than as the end of the world.
- I landed a job as an editor for a professional writer (okay, so it's my brother, but he has a degree in it, and he's been published, so it counts).
This next school year I will be moving back in with my dad and a new step-mom (they'll be married sometime this summer). I intend to finish my degree, edit my brother's writing, write gobs of my own, and try my hardest to publish my first novel. After three years of living away, it'll be an adventure, that's for sure. But God's on my team, and I'm "in" on His.