Secret Thoughts of a First Time Volunteer at Joni and Friends, Part 3

I don’t remember whether I forgot to call Mom and Dad or my parents were unable to pick up the phone. Either way, I settled back into my hotel-style room with all of the day’s events in my mind but any telling about them to my family delayed.

It was a comfortable place, although not the Holiday Inn. Being on the first floor did not help keep out a few bugs from the summertime air outside from coming indoors, but two or three beetles did not disturb me. A big Navajo quilt was hung up over one wall while the opposite was decked with ornate Texas stars. Two beds were available: a full-size and a twin. I had never before been in such a room by myself and away from my family, and it was a little exciting. I had packed just enough and yet sparingly, as though I had been going on mission trip to Africa or someplace. My room made that look laughable as it offered space many times more than that which I had taken up by my things.

But I was not the only person owning this place for the week. Minutes later, my roommate unlocked the door and entered. I had not met her before and so we introduced ourselves. She was a very shy one of sixteen years with hair up in a ponytail that was dyed a sky blue. Little was said as we took turns getting ready for bed in the bathroom’s privacy. While it was her turn, I took up the deck of memory verse cards that I’d brought to study. Some of them I hadn’t been reviewing regularly.

When we finally had time to visit, we both talked a bunch. I reflected on my life growing up in a Christian house in which I had nevertheless taken liberties to spend my time unwisely. I admitted some of my weaknesses, like pride over my words and actions, and mulled over the mercies of God and times when I remembered hearing the most about Him like never before. I talked about how I found out about Joni and Friends, and I mentioned my favorite thing to do: writing stories, but I don’t remember us talking about anything silly that night. Perhaps I had been a bit too reserved.

My roommate took a turn to tell about herself; anything that she wanted to say. She had come along with many others from a huge church to this week’s Joni and Friends camp, but her own backstory was one of the saddest ones of any that I had ever heard while sitting face-to-face with its owner. I was initially surprised that she would choose to share much of it with me at all, but I had just told her my own life and my weaknesses and so it should have been no wonder she would feel free to do the same.

It was an honor to be someone’s listener. I take note today that my roommate was certainly not alone in her circumstances. I, for example, was and am still not a better person in this broken world than her, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 said and still says so for me. But only the most caring while yet also firm people in the world would have been able to respond correctly to a broken story like my roommate’s, which in all of my tiredness and pride problems I failed to do.

If anyone out there feels now crushed under a hardship, whether the problem is inside of their own souls or it is on their bodies, whether the thorn is springing up from their distant peers or it lurks in their very own family, and whether their adversary comes down from the sky or it vents up from the earth, then there is a solution. Oh, that I would remember this and offer it to even strangers who won’t ask for it! But I recalled on that particular night another evening years ago when everything, even that which was good, seemed against me and I against it that what brought me to peace was not music, nor relationships, nor experiences–common things that some people run after when they are depressed to the centers of their bones–but getting close to God by studying His Word.

He never changes, He is eternal and strong, and He is good. When He says YES He cancels all NOs and when He says NO all YESes fly away. I found my anchor in the Bible when I was depressed, not because it felt good but because God is absolute and I am evil and the Psalmist found reasons to praise Him even when their days were dark. If there is any reason for anyone to live, it is in Him and nowhere else. I want my roommate to see God for Whom He is someday and chase after Him with all of her heart.

We turned out the light at midnight, the literal dawn of June 28th, to rest with our own thoughts. I had come to one of the most heavenly places on earth only to be situated on its outskirts. Somehow that now seemed to be the most appropriate if not the most desired position for the one particular Lawrence who had signed herself up for what she really did not know much about.



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