Caution: Change Ahead

Sometimes you see things coming. And other times, things are forced upon you. Last week it was the second one.

MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Youth Ministry

(Photo by Christopher Whalen at Creative Commons)

Day one of summer camp for our denomination started well. After months of focusing on MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) I was glad to be back in a familiar role: camp speaker. Also familiar was the easy banter of being with students, the constant dunking attempts of middle school boys in the water (they were about 1 for 20 against me), and the dinner-time conversations of a camp filled with high school and university students. After a day of fun in the water, we settled into an evening of singing, teaching, and games. I was looking forward to digging into Philippians chapter one with the group the next morning. It felt great to be back at camp.

And then the fog rolled in.

Just as the game time was starting, someone pointed outside. White wisps of chemical fog carried on diesel fumes poured through the camp. Most in the room welcomed the fog as relief from blood-sucking mosquitoes. But I saw the fog through different eyes. I saw the millions of particles of chemicals that would make my job for the week impossible.

I had to escape. I quickly borrowed a car and began to drive and drive and drive–for hours. With my phone dead and everything closed, I finally found a tavern where I could plug-in my phone and call Liz. After a bit of research, we both realized I couldn’t stay–I had no options. I hurried back to camp, gathered my belongings, and headed home. I arrived at 1am, toxed and exhausted.

We soon found out that camp was over for me. The next night they sprayed with planes. The chemical used could permanently make my disease worse. I simply couldn’t go back.

This week it happened again. Our church is at family camp, and I’m supposed to be there. I was supposed to teach this morning. Lead a small group. And we couldn’t go. My toxin levels are so high that even one accidental exposure can send me spiraling for days.

It’s a lot of change to process at once. I won’t lie to you–we’re not always full of faith. Sometimes the loss feels like it is going to overtake us. Sometimes we just cry together. Sometimes we miss the ‘old version’ of ourselves, when Liz’s body didn’t pulse with pain and my body didn’t hyper-react to the world. Sometimes it hurts so bad we can taste it. Sometimes God feels so far away.

At other times, we are full of faith. We can see the shaping, molding work of God in our lives. We lean in, looking for the fingerprints of His handiwork. We see Him answer prayer. We hear Him speak into our hearts. And we rest. And we look forward with vision.

Sometimes we feel both at once. In the midst of it, we do know that God’s kingdom is going forward … in-spite-of–and maybe even because-of–our weaknesses. And, we know that God is teaching us some incredible things–about youth ministry, about leadership, about suffering, and about ourselves.

I hope to share some of those things here. As we continue our conversations about youth ministry and leadership, I’d like your permission to share some of my personal journey, as well. I don’t write to gain your sympathy; I write to be honest. Perhaps it can offer an authentic look into the struggles and victories of one of your fellow sojourners in this quest we call life. I look forward to journeying with you …

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

(PS–One more important thing–this blog will be getting a new look in the next week or two. I hope you’ll like the new layout!)

Animated Social Media Icons Powered by Acurax Wordpress Development Company
%d bloggers like this: