Sunday, August 30, 2009

Camp Love

Sarah and I took an unexpected road trip this weekend. (You remember Sarah, right? She was the one who was hopelessly in unrequited love with Pat, circa 1991.)

Yesterday, our mutual friend, Janet, got hitched.

Sarah has known Janet for most of her life, but I officially met her for the first time at church camp. She was our counselor. We were 15. (It's true - our 15th year was an important one.)

Janet hollered at us a few times that week, because we wouldn't shut our traps and go to sleep already. What can I say? We had only recently met and had 15 years to catch one another up on. Plus, we had our pals Jennifer and Becky in the next bunk over. And please, you cannot house 15 teenaged girls in a cabin for a week and not expect some chatter. That being said, I do believe Sarah and I out talked Jennifer and Becky by at least an hour a night, on average.

While we are on the topic, it feels worth mentioning that we had a fellow cabin-mate named Babe. Promise. So sleep deprived was Janet that she fell asleep one night during Babe's long-winded leg of our cabin-wide prayer time.

Fast forward 3 years, and you'll find us at Bethel College. Janet is the Resident Director of our Freshman dorm. She hollered at us a few more times that year for rebel rousing too late into the night. (I think she felt a little more comfortable unleashing her sleep-deprived angst on us, since we went way back and all.)

And truthfully - she loved us. And we loved her. She was the big sister that I never had and I trusted her, because she trusted us. We shared secrets. She knew about our crushes (at least the top tier) and sometimes, we even knew about hers.

I loved her so much that I opted two years later to serve as one of her Resident Advisors, and Sarah loved her so much that she opted, for no fantastic reason, to live with me for a second time in the Freshman dorm. (Her love for me may have had a little to do with that decision, too.)

My Senior year, she moved out of the Freshman dorm to oversee a street of campus houses. What were we to do but follow?

We ate countless meals with Janet and I even traveled over the ocean with her, once. We belly laughed and sometimes, we cried. We were connected, in part, because we were from the same place. They knew my people and I knew theirs. Home for all of us was, and still is, a podunk area marked by a well-traveled road named Hogpath.

As often happens, we lost touch after college. She remained at BC for several more years, I got married and moved around a little.

Now, 18 years after meeting her at camp, I sat in the same outdoor tabernacle on the same wooden benches and watched her, at the age of 43, marry the person God had made just for her. I don't know him, but I do know her smile and I know a little bit of her heart.

That night, after the wedding, I lay in my childhood bed thinking about how influential she had been in my life; and how she, in part, made me the woman and the wife that I am. She taught me things that I needed to know - things that serve me well.

Mostly, she taught me to not settle for less than God's best for me. And she was a living example of not settling. She waited. I know it was not easy for her to wait sometimes, and I know that other times, she didn't give it a thought.

She just....waited.

Witnessing her in her day of joy was a true and precious gift. Witnessing it in a place that holds so many fun memories, with so many significant people on the benches around me, was icing on the cake.

*(The irony is not lost on me that I attended the wedding and dedicated this post to the wedding, but do not have a picture of the bride. I'm a bit erratic when it comes to taking pictures. You'll have to take my word for it that she looked absolutely smashing.)