Hey everyone, last week a monstrosity of a week for me and posting has been the least of my worries. This Saturday I leave for Mexico with a team of 13 other people to build a playground for an underprivileged community in Ensenada, Mexico. This past week from the 8-12 I’ve been participating in a Vacation Bible School as a group leader. I don’t know if you all know how tiring it can be to participate in VBS for five straight days, but it gets pretty nightmarish pretty quick. I had between 8 and 11 kids every day and wrangling them around, especially the rowdier ones, was very draining. At the same time though, it was extremely rewarding. Watching these kids come to know Jesus a little better, having fun playing games, listening to the stories, singing songs, building small crafts, and everything else was worth it. Such a positive impact on those children is worth the exhausted feelings. Adding in to last weeks craziness I had all of my personal stuff. Right now I’m involved in three different church groups that take up my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, for several hours each. My dad was out of town this past week and a half so I got to use his truck which was really freeing. I had lunch with a friend on Thursday and went over to her house to help her with her talent competition, and in the middle of lunch I had a phone appointment with Weber (my college) about my general education requirements that I need filled so I can finally enroll in classes. And the hardest part of last week is the family issue going on right now. I won’t go into too many details, but things happened on Thursday evening that drove me to flee my mom’s house. I took my siblings and we’ve been living alone in my dad’s house while he’s out of town since that evening, and I’ve been trying to juggle my personal desires and life events with the needs of my siblings. I’m truly exhausted. But, every cloud has a silver lining. While this week has been incredibly difficult, stressful, busy, and downright exhausting, it’s also taught me a lot of things about myself and growing up.
I’m hot off the assembly line as an 18 year old high school graduate who is expected to now be a fully functioning adult member of this society. It’s kind of weird to think about, of course, but I am an adult, and I’m finally starting to feel like one. Responsibility knocked on my door this week and punched me right in the face. The various forms for Mexico and VBS no longer require a parent’s signature. Along with one other adult, I was responsible for 11 children for ~3 hours a day. I had to be a mini parent to those kids. I had to show up on time every day, and every day I went home and had the world at my finger tips (sort of). Because I had my dad’s truck to use, I didn’t really have a limit to where I could go or when I could go because I’m 18 with a truck to drive of my own. I could go wherever I wanted basically whenever I wanted without needing permission.
Every day driving home from VBS, I would listen to the radio and look at the same route I always drove and just think. VBS was kind of like a job and leaving it was kind of telling me in my head, “Now it’s YOUR time!” Again, the world was at my finger tips. The country songs I listen to in combination with my truck made me feel free too. Something about country music just feels liberating to me, like it’s something that has to be listened to on road trips through the country, exploring the great big world. I’m dancing around what I’m trying to get at without actually describing it aptly. Basically having the truck to myself for ~2 weeks and going to/from VBS with country music blasting in the middle of the day just made me feel like the world was completely open to me and nothing was in my way but myself.
I’m sorry, trying to explain that is tough and I think I’m going in circles, but lets move on to Thursday evening, where I really got a bitter taste of life. Some family issues came up that forced me and my siblings out of my mom’s house. We had to flee to my dad’s house where we stayed by ourselves until Monday evening. Something like that coming out of nowhere was a huge shock for me. I’d never expected to have to take on that kind of responsibility so fast, even if it was only for a few days. I had some help from church and lots of people offered me their support, and we made it through the weekend by ourselves. Having this “crisis” though kind of taught me a little something about growing up.
Sometimes life sucks and you just have to deal with it. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are. Life isn’t a walk in the park, it’s more like hiking the Rocky Mountains. Some places are gonna be uphill, others downhill. Some will be beautiful and some will be ugly. You’ll find dead ends and cliff faces that can’t be scaled. Sometimes you’re going to have to backtrack. Other times you’ll have to improvise when you’re surprised by a freak rock slide or blizzard or animal attack or whatever. This past week was like hiking one peak. I ended every day exhausted, but pleased with myself. I was presented with difficulty that I overcame. I had help, and there’s no shame in needing help. God didn’t make us to face life alone. We’re social creatures, and even though society might shame you for not being able to do everything yourself, don’t be ashamed. Certain things require assistance, and asking for help (reasonably) shouldn’t ever be shamed. This family emergency forced me to step into a role I’d never had to take to such a degree: father/leader/patriarch/big brother or whatever you want to call it. To accomplish that task, I had to be firing on all cylinders, putting aside my differences with my siblings to make sure they were okay. I had to ask other people for help. I had to trust God would guide me through that struggle in tact, and here I am today okay. My family situation might not be completely solved, but the big problem that was taking care of my family is. I feel that’s one reason why God allows bad things to happen to good people. They tend to make good people better. I don’t think anyone should ever have to be forced out of their home because it’s unsafe, but it does happen all around the world for different reasons. But you know what? This difficult time has granted me valuable insight into lots of different things. I feel I really know who my friends are and who has my back. I know that I can withstand hardship. I know God will guide me through the rough spots in life. I know that even though my relationship with my brother and sister isn’t good, when it comes down to it we can band together if we really need to.
As August draws ever closer, I have to step up my college game too. Recently I registered for classes which was something I had complete control over as long as I filled the general education requirements. But figuring it out was a solo effort and every choice I made was my own. College is becoming more and more of a reality to me, which is both intimidating and exciting. But as that gets closer, so do all the harsh realities of living on my own. No parents within 700 miles, living on my own, having to get a job for myself, it’s all going to rush on me when I head off to college, and that’s a startling fact. I talked to my dad today and he told me he was excited for me to experience it. I don’t know what it’s like to be truly independent, and this will be a time of tremendous growth. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to survive without seeing my friends every week though. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
To wrap up, growing up is hard, but it’s inevitable. It’s a series of ups and downs, and even when it gets hard, I’m grateful for every rise and dip. Because I know God uses that to mold me. I’m not going to make another cliche, but you know the ones I could use. All those ones that pop up and litter your Facebook feed that someone shares and captions, “So true!” or, “yes.” You know what I’m talking about. All those ones that talk about being molded into a better person through brokenness. So fill in your personal “favorite.” Nobody can change that they’ll grow up, but everyone has the power to change their perspective on it. I’m excited for what my future holds, and in some way or another, I’m going to be a very successful grown up.