I have found in my life, that most trials come with a lesson. Almost every struggle or inconvenient situation has something to teach us. I’ve been asking God to give me patience. I’m wondering if I can withdraw that prayer now. You see, at this very moment I’m on a camping trip, in the rain, with eight teenagers. Yes, you read that correctly. There are eight teenagers with me—and only me. It is Spring break, and we are certainly not experiencing Spring weather as it is only 30 degrees.
So, I’ve been trying not only to find a quiet place to sit and write a blog for this week, but I’ve been fighting really hard to find the sanity to do so. (If this weeks entry makes no sense, blame it on the teenagers. Hopefully I’ll be in the right frame of mind next week).
Camping in a pop-up tent trailer (and a tent outside for the boys) is not the most fun when everyone is confined to the camper during daylight hours, just to stay warm. We have every element of a dramatic teenage sitcom going on here. These high school best friends are all good until patience wears thin, and fuses get short. Me? I’m just sitting here trying to figure out what God is trying to teach me in this situation.
If its patience, I probably failed that test yesterday when I broke the camper sink while trying to get everything set up in the rain. So far we have dealt with wet sheets and mattresses, a hole in the camper canvas—reason for the wet mattresses—a broken door, slide outs that won’t slide out, a breaker that trips continually, a blanket shortage, a ketchup shortage, and drama, drama, drama. Did I mention freezing temperatures and rain?
Probably the biggest nightmare of all has been the fact that there is no cellular service here. No internet, no cellphones, no distractions from the drama, and I’m just talking about my own deficiencies now. So, I’ve been praying for more patience for sure. I keep telling myself I can survive just one more night.
I have heard these exact phrases, “I’m bored. I don’t like hot dogs. Do we not have ketchup? How can we not have ketchup? I don’t eat sandwiches. Can’t we just go to McDonalds? What are we going to do next? When are we going to start having fun?” That’s not even including the endless bickering and complaining about the weather. I feel like I’m stuck at Camp Granada! I’m seriously thinking about writing a letter to my parents and asking them to come get me!
But, with my oldest daughter Haley, graduating high school this year, and my youngest going into 10th grade next year, surely I can make it through this once yearly camping trip. I mean after all, we are here to have fun, but mostly its about making memories. And guess what? Some of the most interesting memories are made in less than perfect situations.
So, what can I do to make this trip more memorable, and —hopefully—survivable? Sometimes a change of scenery helps. We don’t have to be confined to this campground. So, I decided we would take a trip to the river. When I was a teenager, I loved going to the river to pick up drift wood, shells, and interesting rocks. So, I took the teens to Nathan Bedford State Forest and we drove up to Pilot Knob. Amazingly none of them had ever been here before.
My original intent was to let them peruse the museum. We could be inside, out of the cold and still have some fun. But, of all days, the museum was closed for training employees! Seriously? How many employees do they have on staff, three? So, no museum! But, we did enjoy a beautiful view of the river from that very high point. The sun finally came out, and other than the super chilly wind, it was turning out to be a semi-nice day.
Before I knew it, these crazy teens were entertaining themselves by challenging one another to roll down the steep hill, and see who could roll the farthest. It was one of the goofiest things I’ve ever seen, and I forgot to get video! I found myself laughing along with them. We drove down to the rivers edge, got out and walked around to look for driftwood, and other oddities that might have washed up onto shore. We explored a little and found some interesting items for sure.
In just a short time, the bad attitudes and short fuses had vanished and were replaced by silliness and laughter. Not a lot had changed really. We changed our location, and we changed our perspectives. But in the meantime, our attitudes were changed. I also gave them a job, or a distraction. Notice the photo for this blog? They helped me develop the title for the blog and even donated their artwork, and faces— although very reluctantly—to the effort. And, will they have memories from this trip? Oh, I’m sure they will.
The enemy wants us to focus on all the negatives. We then become frustrated, aggravated and ready to give up. With a shallow perspective we can take out our frustrations on others, and have bad attitudes toward each other. But a slight change of perspective, just looking at something through a different lens, a different location, or someone else’s point of view, can make all the difference in the world.
While we were at the river, one of the teens found a broken, blue glass bottle. Picking it up, she took out her cellphone and snapped a picture of that muddy old river through that blue glass bottle. The end result was beautiful. The brown muddy water was now an intense sea of blue, with a pretty pebble beach. It was completely transformed, just by viewing it in a different perspective.
When we change our perspectives, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the mundane everyday challenges become exciting adventures. We can go from being impatient to having a patient and loving attitude. Everyday we can choose to look at the trying times in our lives with a negative perspective and attitude, or we can choose to make the best of it. When we change our perspective it really can change our lives. Thanks Lord, for the lesson!
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.