“Hard, but good.” These are the words I would use to describe summer 2019. At the beginning of the summer, I came in expecting these three months in the woods to be like I remembered my previous year: relatively easy, orderly, and predictable. Boy was I wrong. God has done so much work in me this summer that I didn’t think I needed, but now looking back, I would never trade anything to miss out on those experiences that God had planned for me. I had often heard previous staff giving words of wisdom by saying “No summer is ever the same”, but I don’t think you can comprehend what that means until you experience it for yourself. This summer has been an absolute rollercoaster ride of emotions and stress. Stress has such a negative connotation that goes along with it. At Lake Forest Ranch, I have learned that stress is often related to thoughts of someone being unhealthy or in a bad place in their life, but in actuality, stress does not mean that you are unhealthy. What makes you unhealthy is your response to the stress. Do we look towards God for guidance or do we look towards our flesh and act in our old ways.
Another big thing that I can reflect on this summer is a huge continuation of what I learned and reflected on last summer: Community. At the beginning of the summer, workstaff went over what community means and the “5 C’s of Community”. The first C stands for “Coworker.” At this point in experiencing community, all you have in common that ties you together is that you are working in the same space and have a shared goal. The second C stands for “Commonality.” This stage in the community is where you begin to figure out who likes what, who shares things in common, and who connects based on interests, hobbies, and personalities. The third C stands for “Conflict.” This is the stage that starts to shake things up. There will be challenges that arise in a community, but it is the response of those who are in the community that shapes where the conflict will lead. Most times conflict will be avoided and pushed to the side, but it isn’t until conflict is faced head-on that you go into the fourth C, “Chaos.” This stage seems daunting and feels uncontrollable, but if you go through chaos with the right mindset and with God leading, you will end up even tighter and close-knit than before and reach the fifth C, “Community.”
This summer’s community was much different than I expected or had experienced in the past, but it was sweet. Sometimes it’s worth the risk of a sting to have a chance at real connection.