07 Aug Reflections on a Summer in Allendale
As the baby of the Frick family, I had little to no experience in disciplining; instead, I was the one throwing temper tantrums as I was punished by every other member of the family- mom and dad, brother, cousins, grandma, aunts and uncles- quite literally, everyone. It takes a village to raise a child, right?
Fast forward 22 years to May 2017, I was post graduation from Clemson University, with 6 months of full time “adult life” under my belt. I was in a season of what felt like discipline from the Lord. God was asking me to have hard conversations where the outcomes were not in line with my plan for myself, leading me out of my community within Clemson and the safety that I had felt there for 4 years, and taking me where obedience looked like surrendering my full time job- salary, benefits and all in order to pursue what he would have for me.
After hearing for years that securing a job in post-grad life is the end goal of college, it didn’t take long for me to tightly grasp things of this world that made me feel secure, safe, and established. However, the Lord put me in a place and in a position where all of those tendencies needed to come undone and asked me to open my hands and my heart to Him as my safety net and source of comfort.
In the next step of this season of discipline, I felt like God was asking me to give all of what I knew up and go spend the summer in Allendale. To say I was less than thrilled to go work at a summer camp where I didn’t know anything about the community, much less anyone in the small town of 3,046 people, would be a drastic understatement. I had done the camp thing before, and quite frankly, didn’t thrive in it. But, I knew this was something the Lord was leading me to, so I said an incredibly hesitant “yes” to going to Allendale for 6 weeks to partner with Grace Church, Fairfax First Baptist Church, and Nazarene Baptist Church with the goal of putting on a summer sports camp.
To say I was less than thrilled to go work at a summer camp where I didn’t know anything about the community, much less anyone in the small town of 3,046 people, would be a drastic understatement.
Upon my arrival in Allendale, my feelings of being disciplined by the Lord grew stronger. I was one of three Summer Serve interns working at the camp for the entire 6 weeks Grace Church was sending short term mission teams there, and by 8:30 AM on the first day of camp, I had already realized I was in over my head. I didn’t know how to be a camp director, I didn’t know how to interact with kids that had grown up in a completely different culture than I had, and overall, I had no idea what it looked like to play “Principal” or “Mom” to around 80 kids over the summer. I had no idea how to fulfill this responsibility I had been given on a mediocre level, much less walk in the role well.
It didn’t take long before I found myself throwing a passive aggressive temper tantrum at my Father, telling him how much I didn’t want to be there, how I didn’t see how or why I had to do this, and how tired I was and wanted to leave. Then, I got to know the kids. I began to know their names, faces, stories, hopes and dreams.
I got to know Tyrese, who wants to be an “army man” when he grows up, and sweet Mehki, who wants to be a firefighter. I spent time with Kaseem, who desperately wants to be a leader among his peers as he enters middle school. I got to have real, vulnerable, and difficult talks with Kadence, figuring out together what it looks like to be a woman who is fearfully and wonderfully made and whose life is shaped by Scripture.
Then, I got to know the kids. I began to know their names, faces, stories, hopes and dreams.
While these are only a few of many kids I had the privilege of spending my summer with, being the leader over them for 6 weeks changed my perspective of discipline. As I got to know these incredibly sweet (and sometimes wild, crazy and chaotic) kids, I saw them mess up and fall short of their potential. When this happened, I was there to discipline them; while yes, I loved spending time with these kids, dancing to Juju on that Beat constantly and letting them teach me how to make a lay-up, the love that I had for them was never expressed more purely than in those times of discipline.
When the kids that I had grown to love so dearly fell short of their potential, we would talk through it. We would talk about motives, simple yet true heart issues like lack of forgiveness, jealousy, or anger, and how we could master ourselves and walk in truth moving forward. Almost always, when the kids were put in timeout to think about what they’ve done, they were always more receptive of what I was trying to speak to them after they had sat for a while in time out. As I watched them sit and think, all I could think of is how I am that child.
I grew to understand the Father’s heart towards discipline in ways I didn’t see coming through my time in Allendale. I saw myself in those kids- sitting in timeout, most of the time pouting and fuming that they had been caught in some action that was detrimental to their health, well-being, or future. When I arrived in Allendale, I realized the Lord had put me, a 22 year old college graduate who thought she had everything figured out, in a “timeout.”
I had traded the comfort and identity established in a Sovereign King and loving Father for the false security that worldly things have to offer.
The timeout was an opportunity for me to remove myself from the world I was so used to and found comfort in. He took away all the distractions – people I had found my identity in, community I sought comfort in, securities of life such as a salary, benefits, and a safe neighborhood to live in, as well as familiar ways of life that I had grown accustomed to. He stripped it all away and sat me in a timeout called Allendale; He told me to think about how I’d been acting for the past 6 months.
During my timeout, I thought about how I had grown distracted towards my original purpose and calling- to be a disciple. I had traded the comfort and identity established in a Sovereign King and loving Father for the false security that worldly things have to offer.
Thank God that He chose to put me in a timeout in order to show me what is most important- Himself and the identity that He has given me. He took away all of the distractions so that I could see myself and my sin, in order to view His love and discipline more clearly- that seasons of discipline and “timeouts” are ultimately for my good and my holiness.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?… They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Hebrews 12: 5-11