This year I was asked to oversee a church youth girls camp. The girls ranged from 12-18. I almost laughed out loud and then I realized they were serious. I went home to think about it and started crying and laughing at the same time as I asked God, “Is this for real?” “I have a broken back. I am not a mother. I am not a camping person. I am struggling right now!”
I decided I would do it. After finding out that only five of the girls on a list of 27 came to church on Sundays, I went to work trying to get these girls to be motivated about coming to camp with me. And I started working with the other ladies in our group. It was overwhelming. But I was finding purpose. I was asked to help them, but they were helping me.
Because I teach sewing, I asked the girls over to sew matching pillowcases. They talked and laughed with me like I was someone they wanted to be around. I was learning to love these girls. And the other adult leaders never once questioned my capability even though I am childless. This debunked my belief that because I am childless I could not have good relationships with those that did. I had never given them a chance.
Teenagers see through the masks we adults put up and I found myself dealing with my childlessness in a real way. I began to accept that I could have a happy fulfilled life by helping these girls and other children. I had helped children before, so why was this different?
This experience broke me down. Managing my back and dealing with 100-degree weather, I was putting up tents and telling the girls not to give up. Telling them they could do this. One of the leaders also encouraged the girls, continually saying to them that she knew they could do hard things.
I made it through camp with 15 girls and God’s help, finding an internal strength I never knew I had. I realized I could do hard things. This was one of the hardest situations physically and mentally for me but when it ended I had faith in myself. I realized I was going to be OK.
This is not the future I planned. But I am strong. I can handle childlessness and be happy towards this situation, I just have to want to.
I realized if I want people to believe in me, I first need to believe in myself and then give others the chance to be a good friend. No more allowing fear to rule the outcome of my life.
You know, not once during this summer did I feel sad about being childless. I even went to a family reunion with all my nieces and nephews and allowed myself to be happy with them. What I got in return was a love that no one can ever take away!