Youthfront freaking messed up my life.
I remember this day at Youthfront during a cabin leader meeting when Tanner Burton mentioned the line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and how he finds deep connection and calling to bring His kingdom to earth. I remember this day like it was yesterday.
I talk about Youthfront so much because to me, it was the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. When I think of the kingdom I think of peace, mercy and justice. Genuine relationships and compassionate friendships. When I think of Youthfront, I think of the same things.
I went to La Cygne hoping to become more independent. I wanted to be challenged by the Lord. I wanted to be forced to depend on God. I truly believed I wouldn’t make very many friends and feel quite lonely most of the time.
The exact opposite happened.
I’m a talker and can be pretty obnoxious at times. However, at Youthfront during our cabin leader meetings I felt so silent. The prayer chapel is where we met every afternoon and the people that sat against the walls were incredibly wise. We read the Word like I have never read before. The Word became truth. It came alive to me in that prayer chapel. I sat silently in that room so many days just in awe as if Jesus were discussing his words with me. I was challenged, confused and corrected almost every single day. I fell in love with the Word every single time I left that prayer chapel. Especially one day when we discussed John 10. We had disagreed with each other on the meaning of a verse…assuming we knew the answers. I remember leaving angry with John 10:9—I wanted so badly to fully understand what the Lord meant. That day I fell in love with the mystery of God’s word. I became aware that I by no means as a human being will ever be able to fully understand God and I by no means as a human being have the right to think that my views are correct.
I remember the day I realized Heather Averill and I were meant to become friends. We were standing in room 2 in cabin 20. She was standing in front of the mirror and I was right beside her. We had just recently met and little did we know as we sprayed junk on our hairs that we went through the exact morning routine. I thought I was unique until that moment. I knew we would be great friends. (Later we’ve come to realize we have a lot more in common.) I remember the days Kylie Rupe and I spilled every frustration we ever had. She never judged me. She never said I was wrong. She just listened and asked questions. She was always available. I remember the day Nikki Ingersoll drove all the way to the Plaza with me just to walk around even though we had just met. I felt like she truly wanted to become my friend. I felt so loved. I remember the day Megan Roach and I went thrifting and matched. We giggled all day and I absolutely loved it. I remember the Tuesdays Heather, Nikki, Alyssa TK and I would confess to each other. I would tell them things I didn’t particularly want anyone to know.
I remember the night I yelled at my campers. It was week three, Friday night at 4am. I woke up hearing the girls giggling, so I walked into room 1 and every single girl in the cabin (16 girls in a room made for 4) were COVERED in shaving cream. As a responsible cabin leader, I sternly told each of them that they needed to go to their own rooms, in their own beds and go to sleep. I left the room and fell back asleep. I woke up the next morning hearing stories about how they never did any of that. I wasn’t even mad because I loved those girls. I seriously was so happy being around them. It was that week that I realized I was made for this. Seriously. That God had made me to be with girls. My heart broke each week as I heard stories of insecurities and abuse. My heart broke each week as I saw how bruised these sweet sixteen year olds were and that I couldn’t do anything about it. That same week I realized the importance of female relationships and investments.
These are the things I fell in love with. Youthfront was shalom to me.
I am serious when I say that leaving something so close to heaven sucks.
I went to Youthfront hoping to be forced to depend on God. I assumed I would struggle most of the time, having to depend on the Lord for strength. However, while Youthfront was incredibly challenging, this semester has been more of what I expected Youthfront to be like.
After leaving Youthfront I’ve had to depend more on the Lord than ever before. This semester has been really difficult for me. I’ve never been more lonely, confused or sad in my whole life. I have been drained emotionally, academically and spiritually. Leaving something so close to the Kingdom has been so difficult and that if Heaven is a million times better than what Youthfront was like for me, I cannot even imagine how horrible it would be to be separated from the love of God. I cannot imagine what hell would be like. My semester was really horrible at times, but it was nothing like hell. Not even close. I grew a lot and the Lord was always faithful. I know it wasn’t that bad. While I was lonely the Lord encouraged me through my brother, Austin. While I was confused the Lord gave me courage and truth. While I was sad the Lord comforted me through Emily Brock, Lauren Baum and Stephanie Russell. While at school I am not always practicing the gifts the Lord knew I would feel the spirit the most with. However, at school I can dwell and find contentment in Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
I believe in Matthew 26:41 “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” This semester it has been clear that my body is weak, but I am confident that the spirit is willing to do things unimaginable. We are his workmanship. Like the Lord’s Prayer says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I am honest when I say I compare everything to Youthfront, because to me that’s where I saw the Kingdom of God the most. I had the opportunity to glimpse heaven. I seriously believe that. What an honor to be able to bring that to earth. The lord trusts ME enough to be his messenger. WHAT AN HONOR. Seriously! While I may not always be filled with joy, how amazing is it to know that God trusts me enough to push me to preserve only because he wants to build character and hope in me…all for his kingdom. These truths give me so much courage.
I know how good the kingdom of God is. I cannot let the people around me not experience what I have experienced. The kingdom must come and the spirit is willing.