We sat in a circle, facing one another as we decided on an icebreaker to play. It was our first huddle meeting. The girls and I finally settled on a game that involved everyone’s palms facing up. Absently, I scanned the circle of wrists. As my eyes casually scanned the joined hands, something made me pause. My eyes quickly swiveled back. There, there it was. One of my girls had angry, red welts spanning the width of her wrists.
In that moment, I was in 7th grade again. I was looking at the wrists of my sisters’ who I loved with all of my heart. I couldn’t explain the scabbed bumps. With a stomach that twisted into worried knots, I realized these cuts were not an accident. I was too young to help them. I had no words, instead I snuck glances at their pale wrists, pretending to have seen nothing.
Suddenly, I was back in the circle. I dropped my eyes from her wrists, reverting to what I knew best. I was afraid, ill-equipped for the moment. I hadn’t expected the past to be staring me in the face with yet another pair of soft brown eyes.
Before camp had started, I was really focusing on abandoning what I knew as a past huddle leader. I didn’t want to lean on my own power. My own power wasn’t going to help anyone. It had to be all God.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10
In that moment, I truly felt it. I felt how inadequate I was to help in the situation. I prayed for her. I prayed for me. I prayed that God would use my past to help this beautiful daughter of His.
One of my favorite questions to ask all of my huddlets: If you were going to die tonight, how sure are you that you would end up in heaven? (0%-100%)
Everyone had this question, and they turned it in to me. I got to hers and it read: “0% because I don’t have a relationship with God.”
As the week progressed, and she was able to hear the messages in the chapels, she opened up. In huddle time, she was so thoughtful and considerate with her answers. She really seemed to be curious about God and His redemptive love.
On one of the last days, I got to spend some one-on-one time with her. I asked her about her answer to the question and was blessed to talk about Christ’s sacrifice for us. At the end of our time, I felt I needed to ask about her cuts. As soon as I did, tears came streaming. All the hurt, all the pain was so visible. I had seen that look of pain before.
I was able to share with her about my sisters; their pain, their struggles, their reasons. She opened up to me in a way that she hadn’t been able to before. As I spent more time with this young girl, the more I saw my two sisters. The vulnerability, the fear, and maybe even a little hope.
On the second to last day of camp, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. I ran down to the front to find tears streaming down her face, and within seconds I felt warm tears trailing down my own. I was able to embrace her, silently rejoicing in the strength and power of God’s love.
The last three weeks were insanity. Zach and I did the games for VBS the first week, helped set up and carried out distance camp the next week, and served at the Spearfish Sports Camp. Right now, I’m feeling pretty mentally, physically, and spiritually drained.
But I’m also feeling so close to God that I may as well be standing on a mountain top with cherubs flying around me as a rainbow shoots across the sky and Moses is handed the 10 commandments. I would go back and do all the late nights, all the headaches, all the stress in a heartbeat.
I would do it all again to see her soft eyes glowing with the knowledge of God’s love for her.