My job requires me to make a lot of decisions.
These decisions range from what color to order of bandannas and shirts for the camp store, from who to hire for the summer, all the way from how to start dispersing with the camp things like canoes, kitchen equipment, etc. I make a lot of decisions. Many of them are decisions I hate making.
With a passion.
But, it’s like I say to my staff when Brad doesn’t make the 7-layer bars he is so famous for that they really wanted: “life is hard.”
Yes, life is hard. And we are all forced to make decisions we don’t want to make. Decisions, like how I respond to people when they send me e-mails telling me their life story with the camp; how they spent their summers there working in the kitchen, or how they sat on the beach when they were there watching one of countless sunsets, or how its the one true place where they can find God. Now, you might think, “wow, this is so emotional and I must cry each time I read one of these e-mails.”
Many of these e-mails actually upset and often times anger me. They anger me because when I don’t tell them that we’re going to save the camp, they blame me; they say I’m not doing my job or that I don’t actually care about camping ministry. Just as I read and judge their e-mails without actually knowing them, they judge me by my e-mails saying that I hope they can come visit and I’ll do what I can to make it possible. They judge me because I can’t give them what they want. I can’t give them their endless 7-layer bars.
Life is hard.
When I make a decision to answer an email, I have to stop and think, “how is this person hurting? What about their story do they want me to hear? What do they need to really tell me under their angry words?” I will admit, there are times that I don’t answer back. I sometimes make the decision that I cannot help them, they just wanted someone to yell at. And frankly, I don’t respond well to e-mail yelling.
And then, there are those who literally need an e-mail shoulder to cry on. They just need to know you heard them and that you stand in solidarity with them when you say, “yeah, this sucks, big time and I wish I could make it all better.” Those are the ones that wear me out emotionally when I read them, and that sometimes make me cry.
And I hate crying. I am an ugly cryer. I mean, like Claire Danes crying on Homeland. It is not pretty.
And then there are the ones where I am blamed for the fact that others have to make decisions about coming to camp or not. I actually get these quite frequently.
Let me elaborate…
Recently, I received an email from a parent who was upset that the one camp her child was able to attend was also the same week as another regional youth gathering not far from us. She insisted that I change the dates and move the camp so her daughter didn’t have to decide between the two. Now, while I responded gracefully and tried to be gentle with her, what I truly wanted to say was, “hey lady, life is hard and sometimes your kids have to make decisions. They have to learn that life is about decisions. Sorry, but this is one of those moments. Maybe you don’t want to make her face the real world, but she’s already in it.”
The fact is, we all make decisions. Daily. Hourly. By the minute. Everything we do is a decision. When I read my e-mails, I have to make a decision based on what I think someone is trying to say to me and decide how to respond in a manner that will help them. This woman and her daughter must make a decision. A decision that I can’t make for them, and I can’t make it easier for them. The camp is closing and that is a decision that came hard for many years for many people. But it was made and we have to make decisions based on that previous decision. We can’t turn back time and change things now because that’s not how the world works.
Here’s the bigger issue: we can’t make decisions if we don’t stop focusing on the decisions of the past. We can’t change them. But we can move on from them to make new decisions. Those new decisions are where new things come from. These decisions might or might not truly affect our lives in major ways, we will never know. Because once you have made a decision and gone through with it, you can never take it back.
Abraham made decisions, really hard ones. Sometimes I think about the story in Genesis where Abraham leaves his father’s world and enters into covenant with our Father. He left behind a lot, all based on a decision to follow God. That is one hard decision that I cannot imagine making. I am so glad I didn’t have to.
Or, the decision of being a Christian in the times of the New Testament. It wasn’t cool to be a Christian like it is today. Things were done in secret so you didn’t get persecuted by the government. Being a Christian, for many, was a hard decision.
Or, like the times when other Christians tell me I’m going to hell for being the person God made me to be. Last time I checked, God doesn’t make mistakes. I could decide to let them know that the God I believe in is a God of love and that I don’t think that they believe in the same God I do and that the God they believe in doesn’t exist. But, I have to make the decision to not condemn them as they do to me. I would like to think that God didn’t make them into jerks, they did that on their own. That was their decision.
But that’s how it goes. We make decisions. Daily. Hourly. By the minute. We make decisions. And sometimes they suck, because frankly, sometimes, life is hard.