Have you ever been challenged to do something that’s way out of your comfort zone, so far out that you don’t even think it’s possible? That happened to me this summer when I signed up to volunteer at church camp, so Zoie would feel more confident about going to camp and having a great, first experience.
When they first approached me to lead a group of eleven, seven-year old girls, I was a little skeptical. Could I really do this? Better yet…do I really want to do this?
I was thinking more like kitchen helper or planning activities simply watching from the sidelines. My son always tells me I would have made a great cruise director, but team leader came with major responsibilities. That meant sleeping in a bunk bed surrounded by dozens of kids that don’t really want to sleep.
I’d spent summers over a span of ten years counseling at a popular sports camp, but THAT was during my college days.
Surely I could survive 3 days playing pirates.
I said yes, but still felt consumed with thoughts of insecurity…would I be any fun for these second and third graders? Most importantly…would I be able to keep up the same camp spirit I sported all those years ago. After all, I’m 48 years old.
A few days before camp, I received the itinerary of activities we’d be doing together as a team. The theme was Treasure Island and we were all going to set sail on a pirate adventure to learn just how much God treasures each of us. The theme verse was Duet. 7:6. “The Lord your God has chosen YOU to be a people for his treasured possession…”
There was a special side note in the itinerary: Bring two shirts that will get dirty/ruined from mud activities. We would be playing in the mud??
The first night, I dived right into camp and the pasta before asking what was “in” the pasta. I’m extremely allergic to beef and pork and found myself in the nurse’s station an hour later receiving large doses of Benadryl. I felt like one of those pirates who lost a little of the loot after throwing up the treasure!
I wasn’t starting off with the bang I’d hoped for. Now I was drugged and would sleep like I was in a coma.
The next morning, I felt groggy but ready to face the day. It was lake and mud day so I changed into my outfit that would be ruined (like the itinerary stated) I will be honest, I was nervous. What grueling activities were coming up and could I keep up?
Here’s the funny thing, something came alive in me and I could feel the excitement and exhilaration as I ran toward the mud field with my campers! This WAS going to be a blast! This was going to be an adventure and I wanted to make sure every camper was having fun, covered in mud, and each of their outfits were ruined just like mine.
I had the day of my life. I was definitely not too old to play in the mud or paddle canoe rides at the lake for joyous campers. There might be a debate who was having more fun, me or the kids! I’m so thankful I didn’t stand on the sidelines and watch all the fun, but jumped in to live out loud the fun!
And, that’s when it hit me. I never really needed that squishy, messy mud in the first place. For me, that muddy day was merely a reminder of how important it is having a spirit of adventure. How vital it was to stay young at heart. I wanted to hold tightly to the beloved words of the lost boys in Peter Pan, “I never want to grow up!”
If we’re going to be world-changers, we have to be willing to get muddy.
And, we encourage others to jump in with us. We are all called to simply love, but the “how” will look different for each of us.
If you are feeling stuck in the mud, I want to encourage you to find your new adventure. Whether you’re 18 or 80, let’s keep living life out loud with significance in this big, wide world. Let’s do this crazy life together and encourage one another to love big, serve big, and play big.
So, that night after a long, get-all-the-mud-off shower, I thought about the day and the muddy lessons I had learned.
So, what really happens when we live outside our comfort zone?
- It awakens our spirit of adventure: We have an exclusive passport to be an adventurer on God’s journey. I’m not talking about jumping out of planes or deep sea scuba diving (you wouldn’t catch me doing any of those things), but when it comes to a God-adventure, we want all in. You have been ordained with very specific gifts, passions, and talents from the Creator of the Universe. He’s got big plans for your life. Always be willing to say yes to His journey. I promise you it will be more thrilling than any other adventures combined.
- It inspires others who are stuck in the mud how to play big: Action is the best way to show others how to gear up for fun and they will watch you celebrate life. Make everyday count and in the midst of so much stress (it’s easy to get stuck in the mud when your going through a stressful time) surround yourself with community, especially when you feel those top triggers of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Find ways to connect. Volunteer in an area you are passionate about. It’s hard to stay stuck when you are serving big.
- It exemplifies pure joy and playfulness even on the most mundane days: Life is hard. I can tell you a dozen stories right now of people I know who are going through really difficult hardships. Divorce, court cases, death, sickness, abuse, loneliness, heartache and loss. When life is beating you up or you see others going through dark days, what can you do? Encourage. Pray. Cheer. Support. Pray bigger. Keep walking.
- It opens up our senses for creative thinking: This is probably my favorite, because if we are going to be world-changers, we need supernatural creativity and unswerving hope for the future. It doesn’t matter what season you are facing: school, mommyhood, empty-nester, there is a place for you. Don’t give up, but pray fervently for God to open up new doors of significance to love big.
- It allows us to encourage others (right where they are) to look for opportunities to make a difference in their community: I love being a cheerleader for people and ministries that are world-changers. Let’s be honest, it takes an enormous amount of energy and time to serve on the mission field, or put together an event to raise money for humanitarian projects, or volunteering, or serving in your church or reaching out to your neighbors. Let’s be a community of fans and cheer loudly when we see someone stepping out in faith with action to show the love of Jesus.
What are you doing to stay young at heart and making a difference in your community? I’d love to hear!