fruit of the week: love

I’m embarking on a new adventure with some lovely ladies in the blog world. starting this week for the next eight weeks we will be posting about the fruit of the Spirit. each of us in our own unique way will be sharing our thoughts, experience, etc. on the fruit of that week. here we go!

as soon as I joined up on this blog series I knew exactly what I would share for the week of love.

most people don’t recall when they learned what love is. it’s more of a gradual process that most can’t pin point. when you’re a baby you’re loved ones say “I love you” to you enough times that you eventually learn the right response, “I love you too”. I had always thought I knew what love was, until I learned what love was.

when I was 17-years-old I worked my first summer as a counselor at Wildwood Ranch. we’ve been over this, I know, I say it all the time. but it really is the most challenging and rewarding “job” ever.

one week my first summer I had a verrrry challenging cabin of 11 & 12 year olds. they hated each other. twelve girls, all beaming with potential, placed in a cabin together with my co-counselor and I who were ready to show them love and a good time at camp. and these twelve girls spent Monday-Friday viciously hating each other. my co-counselor and I tried endlessly to turn things around, to get our girls to start over, give second chances, forgive. as I think about that week now, I can hear my girls crying, yelling, smacking their lips. I remember Wednesday of that week I had to step away and sob for a few minutes. I remember telling the head female counselor that I would so rather them hate me than each other.

there was one girl in particular that week that drove me insane. Tamera. Tamera was quiet, utterly defiant, and she had this little smirk on her face when things were going terrible in the cabin, as if she were pleased by it. oh, that smirk.

to give you a glimpse of Tamera… one meal she just would not eat (which was a common struggle week to week to get girls to eat as much as they should) so I had made a deal with her that she had to eat said amount then she’d be set. she agreed. however… she took forever to eat it. the dining hall was cleared out and she still had half of her sub sandwich to eat. so her sub came back to the cabin with us, and while the rest of the cabin got to settle in their bunks for our required time of rest, I stood on the porch with Tamera waiting for her to finish her sub. I couldn’t even tell you how long it took. she attempted to rip a chunk of the bread and hide it in her hand, which my eye did not miss, and she had to eat that as well. eventually the final huge bite of the sub was in her mouth. we then went in to the cabin for rest time. I sat on my co-counselor’s bed and talked to her about Tamera when I realized that Tamera had no intention of swallowing the final big bite of her sub. she intended to leave it in her mouth for the rest of our nap time, then spit it out. that was Tamera, sly, subtle, serious defiance.

somehow I made it through that week without losing my mind. and that is the essence of Wildwood, when you shouldn’t be able to keep going, keep loving, you can because of God.

two weeks later Tamera was back, in someone else’s cabin. I remember thinking, “thank God she is not in my cabin.” the first few days she was typical Tamera, pretending she didn’t care about anyone or anything. I remember genuinely being angry that she’d come back. when in reality, it probably wasn’t even her choice to come back.

Wednesday of her second week at camp, which was also the last week of summer, I had a total heart change. I couldn’t explain it if I tried. I loved Tamera. when I saw her I would hug her and call her my best friend. she melted, not like some of them do, she still had her walls up but that smirk that used to make me crazy was now a timid but genuine smile.

in the final moments of camp, Tamera’s counselor was trying to get Tamera on the bus so she could go back to Detroit. and Tamera, for reasons I will never know, was hiding between the porta-potties refusing to come out. I walked over and jokingly said to her, “c’mon Tamera, do you need me to hold your hand?” Tamera came out from the porta-potties, grabbed my hand and swung our hands back and forth as we walked to the bus.

I laughed, gave her a hug and said, “Tamera, I don’t understand you, but I love you.” and I meant it.

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2 thoughts on “fruit of the week: love”

  1. Oh… Surprised by love! It’s amazing how God changes us from the inside out. Thanks for sharing. I so wish I could hear Tamara’s story of how that one counselor loved her.

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