Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My summer in the mountains.

Days like today remind me that I am way more sentimental and nostalgic than the average person, and I guess I'm okay with that until I realize that I'm struggling to say goodbye to a ROOM I know I won't ever see again. The night before I moved out of my apartment and home for a week before coming to Denver I wrote about how I was having a hard time leaving the four walls I had called home for two years, but how, in a sense, I was ready to leave. When chapters end or pages turn I am normally ready for them, but not this time, I am not ready and I've been praying big prayers that God would make me ready before I leave this city on Tuesday morning.  What was it about this summer that makes it so hard to leave a place I had never visited before March?  What was it about this summer that makes it so hard to say goodbye to seven people I did not know existed 2 and a half months ago?  What was it about this summer that makes water gather in my eyes when I drive down Colfax knowing that the days of driving down that street are coming to an end?  

We've talked about this as a staff a hundred and one times, but what a summer of serving with CSM does to you is impossible to explain and that's where I am stuck.  I cannot explain how cool it was to hear my students use the word "gentrification" in casual conversation.  I don't know how to put into words the joy my heart was given when I sat down at Senior Support Services to have a conversation with my friends James and John.  Then I try to describe why such a big smile gets brought to my face when a street friend hugs me after I serve them a meal.  It was more than just a summer of serving the Lord and being excited about it, it was a summer of realizing that I absolutely love and adore and want to be in relation with people who are not loved, adored or in relation with anyone.  I just want to be all of their friends and I want to encourage them and let them know that they are just as treasured and loved by the King as I am. 

I knew I had an adventurous spirit, but this summer has inspired me to take life by the hand and just run with anything and everything.  I have discovered a new side of a myself and being surrounded by people with incredibly adventurous spirits encouraged me to dig inside of the person I am still becoming and decide that it's okay that I don't exactly who I am yet.  People bring out different sides of me and working alongside Keysha, Jay, Drew, Jordan, Chris, Lexi and Brittany all summer helped me discover a side to myself that loves deeper and cares more intentionally.  When you're thrown into a group of people and forced to be with them every waking second for two and a half months straight you create a bond that is unique.  We served together, saw hearts change together, experienced belly aching laugh attacks together, but beyond all of that we had an unspoken understanding for each other and that is harder to describe than anything.  My heart was transformed and softened in the presence of these people and I had no other choice but to turn to them in times of stress or frustration.  When we would try to describe how we were feeling and couldn't, we would just know and that's probably the second hardest part of leaving; I'm REALLY going to miss these people. 

The absolute hardest part is leaving all of the people I've built relationships with at ministry sites.  I've seen people improve, I've seen people relapse, I've seen people commit their lives to Christ, I've seen people enter into life changing programs, I've seen people refuse help and I've prayed with completely plastered people along Colfax in hopes that something I said would stick.  I know what state I am leaving the people I've met this summer in.  I do not know where they are going to end up and coming to grips with the fact that I may never know where they end up is tough.  However, I have complete confidence that God used me in the conversations He made available and I believe that He has placed His sovereign hand over those people.  God is bigger than their addictions, He is bigger than the label society has placed on them, He is bigger than mental illness and stories of failure after failure after failure.  My prayer is that my friends understand those things too.   

Every group that I got to work with this summer inspired me in one way or another.  It was such an encouragement to see them on Sunday after the prayer tour all nervous and not willing to talk or pray and then to have them super pumped and excited about talking to anyone they see or praying with someone they just met by Friday.  Their willingness and the way they all embraced me was beautiful and it was a HUGE honor to get to work with each of them.  

I'm convinced that I'm never really going to find my place in the world and that's because God is always going to pull either a new desire, a new dream, a new passion, a new place or a new person to the surface of my heart and responding to those things will put me somewhere new and those things will completely change me.  I'm more than okay with this.  I don't ever want to stop growing; I want to continue to find who I am through adventures and building relationships with people.   

People need to be loved and encouraged and pushed.  People need to be told that they are beautiful and wonderful and desired.  I am convinced it is my job to intercede on the Lord's behalf to remind people of these things.  I would like my life to be filled with compassion, love and adventure, where those things are not, is where my work lies.  

- Heather, CSM Denver Summer 2013 City Host

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