Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apparently I Have No Hope

In a little over two weeks I will be traveling with a group of people from my church and another church in the area to Joplin, MO to do a program called Camp Noah.

For those of you who need a memory refresher - Joplin, MO is the town that had the crazy tornado this past spring. It touched ground for about 30 minutes and destroyed a significant part of the town (including the public high school) with an estimated 162 deaths.

Yeah... that Joplin, MO.

Camp Noah is a program that is created to help children process natural disaster. The best thing I can compare it to is Vacation Bible School. Only it's all day vs. 1/2 a day, and it's all about natural disasters.

The Camp Noah Team from 2 Years Ago
To prepare, all participants need to attend training led by Camp Noah National. We go over affects of disasters, how to handle trauma, techniques in how to talk to the kids, curriculum, etc. I participated with a Camp Noah two summers ago in Cedar Rapids, IA after they had a flood. So most of this was review - although a great refresher.

This is also going to be a lot more intense than Cedar Rapids though...

It's only 5 months after the tornado....

Joplin is barely starting to recover...

It'll be a great week - but intense.

During our training last night as we were going through the curriculum for every day we talked about hope. The last day of Camp Noah is all about looking towards the future and having hope. We were each asked to write down four things.

A hope you have for yourself

A hope you have for your family

A hope you have for your community

A hope you have for the world

I had a hard time with this exercise. For the world I could think of a few things such as acceptance of all different sorts of people, feeding those who are hungry, putting a stop to sex-trafficking, etc. Community was a little harder. My hopes for my community though are similar to the ones for the world, only on a smaller scale. I think that was more difficult also because I'm still getting to know this community - I don't really know what it needs yet. Family I could think of easily because I know what we need.

But for myself...

I couldn't think of anything.

It's not that I'm not a hopeful person. (At least I don't think that's the issue.) It's more of that I don't know how to put my hopes into words... or that my hopes look different than what they should be. Whatever that is.

I've always had issues writing down these sorts of things. In college one of our professors had his own mission statement. It was written on the bottom of all of his emails and notes - I'm sure during my college years I could have recited it word for word. Once he assigned for our class to write our own personal mission statements.

I'm pretty sure I never turned in that assignment.

Lately I've been connected to Stratejoy, a website for women going through their "quarter life crisis". Through that I've been getting the Joy Juice writing prompts. Every three days in my gmail inbox I get my writing prompt. Usually it's something self-reflective and learning how to enjoy your life now and making goals for yourself. It's been really good for me... but difficult sometimes. Through these, and other things, I've been thinking about how in life we need to be intentional about what we want our lives to be about, being joyful, making goals and reaching them, finding ourselves, etc.

Being intentional about our hopes for ourselves, perhaps?

All of these things are good... and I know I need to work on being more intentional. Yet, at times I'm not sure if this is the way I want my life to be like.

I've heard people say things such as: "This is my year of being brave!" So they go out and do things that normally would make them scared and at the end of the year they are full of confidence.

Or people will say "In this period of time I'm really going to focus on what I want out of life." So they go off and intentionally work on what they want out of life.

But what if by the end of that year you still aren't very brave?

What if by the end of that time period you still don't know what you want?

I don't know... maybe it's just the Grumpy in me coming out.

But is that how life really works? Is that how God works?

I see the benefits of finding out what you want in life and setting goals and reaching them. But how many times did people in the Bible have their own plans - then God stepped in and changed it all up? Do you think the disciples sat around creating lists of their hopes and dreams and life plans? Did Moses have on his list of things he wanted to achieve in life freeing the Israelites? Did Phillip plan on the Holy Spirit sending him to some random road to talk to an Ethiopian eunuch? There are times when Paul talked about how he wanted to go to a certain place, but that wasn't what God wanted.

What if my hopes for my life aren't the same as God's hopes?

What if my plans aren't His?

What if my timeline doesn't fit His?

You know that typical Christian phrase... "If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans..."

Yet at the same time... does that mean we just wander through life not making any plans? Any hopes?  No goals? No dreams? That doesn't seem to make much sense either.

I feel like this is one of those things again where it's all about balance. But what is that balance?

A poster the kids make at Camp Noah

P.S. I hope you all like the new format! I'm still working on the header and making some adjustments... and thanks for bearing with the changes this week as I've been playing around with the site. If you have any tips or suggestions let me know!

P.P.S. And please don't interpret this post as a diss on Stratejoy and Joy Juice - I've been loving it and it's really been helping me examine my life and thoughts! :D

1 comment:

  1. I know this isn't exactly the same but... the assignment I always hated was "make a timeline of your life."

    I hated it because you were expected to have these Important Moments that happened throughout your life. I never knew what to put on my timeline. It was like "I was born." "My brother was born." "I moved to Illinois." And that was it. But we were expected to pinpoint and chart a bunch of important moments in our life.

    It's not exactly the same, but it comes down to this idea of "What defines you?" And I don't know if it's really such a terrible thing if you can't distill the purpose of your life into a single sentence or a series of specific events. Because, like you said, who am I to decide that, at this very moment, I need to know and explain exactly what God's purpose for my life is? And what if God wants many things from me before I die? Can those all be my purpose?

    I didn't really answer any of your questions (and asked more of them), but... that's what it made me think :)


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