Have you ever played with Silly Putty or Slime? Pulling it and watching it stretch and stretch but not break? It’s kind of mesmerizing to watch and wonder, how does it do that? My kids love to play with this stuff endlessly, although I’ve banned it from the house because I seem to always find it stuck in hair or the carpet!
Being stretched like Silly Putty isn’t necessarily easy, is it? But we all experience it in our lives, sometimes daily. I know if you are a parent this is especially true! This summer I’ve watched our son, Samuel, be stretched and stretched.
Samuel spent seven summers as a kid experiencing camp life for five days. He attended Camp Shamineau with friends and over and over would come home with stories and adventures to share. He loved it and was so impacted by it that as he got older he started saying he wanted to be a camp counselor. Well, this summer it worked out and he was accepted to serve at Camp Shamineau.
Back in January when he was accepted it seemed like it was a long ways off that he would spend most of his summer at camp. But, like everything else, it rushed upon us and in June he was off. Gone for four weeks, with just a weekly call, it felt strange to the rest of us left at home.
You see, Samuel is such a steady presence in our lives. He is almost always smiling and in a good mood. He has his moments where he gets stressed and overwhelmed but they don’t last long. For the most part he’s just even-keeled and steady. He knows exactly how to calm the little ones in the house, especially his buddy Jacob. He knows how to work hard and get things done well. Having him around is like having perfect summer days with a hot sun and a cool breeze.
And then he was gone. He spent a full four weeks at camp before coming home. When I picked him up, I hardly recognized him. He looked so grown up….and taller! We had a great three hour drive home, where I got to hear about all he had done at camp. He was loving it, I could tell.
He only spent a weekend at home and was off again for three more weeks. He’s down to two weeks now. This last weekend he came home again to run the Tough Mudder with his dad and brother. When I saw him, I could tell he was getting run down and tired.
He’s in introvert and homebody so to spend seven weeks serving at camp with rowdy campers, crazy weather, poison ivy, and lots of dirt is nothing short of stretching him like Silly Putty! I think he’s been stretched to the point where he’s sagging a bit like Silly Putty does when it gets really thin as you pull.
But, he hasn’t broken, nor will he. Though he seemed tired and worn out, he still only said good things about serving at camp. He’s loving the kids, the staff, and the whole experience. He’s already talking about serving as a program director next summer and working there full time after college. I’m so impressed with his maturity and willingness. This hasn’t been an easy summer for him, yet he maintains his good mood and easy going attitude towards it all.
I think we could all learn a lesson from Samuel. Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t just stay in your comfort zone because you feel good there. Allow yourself to be stretched. And stretched. And stretched.
Don’t worry, you won’t break. You might just find you have some hidden and better qualities you didn’t even know about. It might just push you into some new experiences in life that you’ll love, even if they are hard and different. Who knows, it might even show you God’s path for your life!
Be stretched. Be open to God’s leading. Be cheerful about it.
Be like Samuel.