But it was the first time I felt I successfully “adulted.” But that I mean: I felt like an adult for two days. The girls would ask me permission to do activities, or they would listen to me to go to bed or to pray or for directions on where we were headed next in our schedule. I had the opportunity to pray over each of them, to teach them devotions, and to listen to what they had to say. It was fun, it was hilarious, and it was inspiring to me.
The theme of the retreat was GLOW with Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven" as the highlighted Bible verse. It's not hard to understand the theme: shine for Jesus. I've heard it before, I even thought some smug thoughts about such a cliche theme. But by the end of the second day, I was entranced with the idea of "glowing" for God.
One thing "glowing" does is it makes things bright. And this weekend was definitely bright. It was fun to spend time with these girls swimming, playing games, teaching them, and laughing. There was a lot of laughing with them. From being the "Butter Girls for Jesus" to trying to fit through a hula hoop while holding hands to watching some of them on stage during the awards and honors ceremony, the weekend was definitely filled with joy.
These girls listen to me, they look up to me, they like talking and interacting with me. There were many laughs shared during those two days. There were moments I taught them. There were moments they taught me.
As I prayed over one of the girls, she told me my prayer was going to make her cry. She didn’t give me a reason why, she just said it was what my prayer said, what my prayer did. For a lot of my life, I’ve felt isolated in my faith. I believe God is there and He is listening. I believe Jesus is the Son of God, who died on a cross to save the world from their sins and He rose again. I believe prayer works. I believe in miracles. I believe in the supernatural.
But for a lot of my life, I didn’t hear God’s voice like other people. Sure, I read my Bible, I followed it’s commands, I did what was right. But I’ve never felt completely pulled into a calling. I didn’t get called to be a missionary like my sister. I didn’t hear someone tell me to be a pastor like other people. I just kind of picked a nearby college based on the scholarship they gave me and advice from my mom and picked my major because it was something I liked to do.
I believe the Holy Spirit is working in me and has lead me different places in my life. But I didn’t feel the power like some people have. I just figured God had other people to tell and He’d tell me eventually. Or so I hoped.
It’s been a struggle over the past few years to know if anything I’m doing is worth it, if I’m where I should be, if I’m doing what I should be. Multiple people—from multiple sources—have given me advice, or preached a sermon, or encouraged me with the idea I am doing what I’m supposed to. Whether I heard it audibly, felt it stirring deep in my heart, or simply ended up here because this how things worked out: I’m here. I’m where I’m supposed to be.
But when that beautiful girl told me my prayer almost made her cry when her heart, exposed to God for His calling on her life, made me feel like crying, I had a glimpse of the power of prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God within me.
And this weekend changed me. Yes, the weekend was for the girls. For them to learn to shine the light of Jesus. For them to know how they’re actions and words mean everything.
Maybe this is cheesy. Maybe people will scoff at me or think I'm strange, but I don't want that to matter. I want to smear my glowing butter for Jesus all over people. And I'd like to start with these girls.
But first I have to start with myself. Over the weekend, we talked about glow sticks (imagine that). Glow sticks shine, just as we are called to shine like Matthew 5:16 says. Before a glow stick can "light up the dark," it has to be broken. I've been broken. I've had ups and downs in my life, same as others. I usually hide my true feelings, hide my struggles, hide the parts of my life that are embarrassing or make me feel stupid. But in order to shine, I need to be broken again like a glow stick. I need to be bent like a glow stick bracelet. I need to be bent to fit my purpose in life. I need to glow. Like a firefly, I need to find my wings, find my glowing butt, and get out into the dusky twilight and shine.
Sometimes I don’t feel I live up to my abilities, and sometimes I feel that I’m overlooked with my abilities. I’m younger than most adults in the church, so I’m not the first person to be asked to take charge or do this or that. I’m too old for youth and kids activities, so I don’t fit in there. It’s the hard in-between stage. But after this weekend, I think I’ve found my place. I still might not be the first one to be called to take action, but I’ve found somewhere I can be used. With these girls. Being a good example to them, standing by them, praying for them, and teaching them.
This weekend, I learned I can be an adult. I can be trusted to be in charge, responsible to get where I need to be and get four girls there too. I can be in charge of sassy children, who are so full of fun. But I also learned I am where I’m supposed to be.
Maybe this won’t be forever. It could change in six months when I graduate from college. It could change in six years. Either way, this moment, right now, I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m not supposed to be in the adult Bible study. I’m not supposed to be helping with the youth. I’m supposed to be with these girls, these young hearts and beautiful faces. I’m supposed to teach them, lead them, love them. I’m supposed to make them laugh and cry. I’m supposed to be a good role model for them. I’m supposed to be here. I’m supposed to glow with them.