Get To, Not Have To
Throughout the year, we receive numerous phone calls, emails, and letters from campers expressing their life transformation while at camp. These are just too good to keep to ourselves! Check out this mom’s story and how one of our counselors helped her re-focus on serving her family.
When I got married, I had a very “Norman Rockwell” idea of what my life and family were going to look like. You know, all seated around a table in a very “Southern Living”-looking home. Children in cute outfits, delicious looking food on the table, an adoring husband smiling as he prayed over the meal.
However, the reality was much different. I did have an adoring husband and four cute children, but after that, the expectations that I had were much different from my reality. Dinner was usually whatever I could throw together, there was ALWAYS laundry on the couch to be folded, the kids…. Well, let’s just say they didn’t sit at the table quite as nicely as the kids in the pictures did.
And as the days and years wore on, I became, like most moms, tired. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Burned out. It felt like as much as I did, there was always so much more to do. I would share this with my husband, but he didn’t really know what to say or do to bring me out of the state I was in. He tried. He offered suggestions and he helped… and yet still, I felt in over my head.
For a couple of years we had heard about “family camp” and how wonderful it was. My husband suggested we go, but honestly I wasn’t sure how fun “camp” sounded. But we signed up for week five and headed to camp.
Our family of six sat around a table at dinner the first night, and a counselor I will never forget named Southern Belle joined us. The children were all hungry and ready to eat and my husband and I were frantically trying to cut everyone’s food up on their plates. Southern Belle asked if she could help and, like most moms, I said, “No, no… I can do it.” As the children got louder though, I relented and said, “Yes, help would be great.”
Once everyone was eating and peaceful, I turned to thank Southern Belle and she replied, “Oh, thank you for letting me do that for you. It was a blessing for me to get to do that for you.”
Tears stung my eyes as I thought of how beautiful her words were to me. And you better believe I asked her to join us at every meal. ☺
We enjoyed camp so much and I loved that I didn’t have to think of what to fix my family to eat (and the food was good!). They brought us clean towels and swept the dining room floor after we ate. It was awesome.
But the truth was, I was dreading going back home. I knew ALL those responsibilities awaited me and I dreaded it. DREADED it.
Wednesdays at family camp are “free days.” The children have activities until 3:00, and the adults are on their own. My husband went to play golf and so I decided to go to the ladies Bible study. We read some scriptures, and then we each went around and shared a prayer request. They started at the other side of the room and people around the room shared big things. Like REALLY big things. Financial problems and marital problems and health problems. So many big problems that it made my problems feel silly.
I almost didn’t share, but I knew that if it mattered to me, it mattered to God. And so I told the ladies in that room that I was tired. That I wasn’t finding the joy I thought I was supposed to find in being a wife and a mom because there were so many things (like the laundry!!!) that kept me from ever feeling like I could enjoy my family or be the person I was supposed to be. And I told them I just didn’t know how to get it all done.
And as we left, I have to admit, I felt a little stupid. Because I was sure that they are wondered how that prayer request could be answered. Seriously… unless the Lord sent Merry Maids on Monday morning to my house, I didn’t see how He could answer my request either.
But here’s the thing.
And if I could yell that no situation is too big or too small for God and that He wants us to bring our requests to Him, I would. Because He so is faithful.
My prayer was answered just a few hours later … I mean God was ON IT.
At 3:00 I went and picked up my son from his class. He had been with his sweet teachers for almost 6 hours. SIX. I thanked the counselor, whose camp name was Hollywood, and said I was going to put sunscreen on my son and take him to the lagoon to meet the rest of our family.
After I got his suit and sunscreen on, I put him in his stroller and went down to the lagoon. When I got there, unbelieveably, I saw that same counselor, Hollywood, on the lifeguard stand.
I called up to her and said, “Hollywood, what are you doing?!”
She said, “I’ve got life guard duty today.” (This same girl who had 2-year-old duty for six hours just before).
I asked her, “Do you not get a break?”
And this is what she said:
“This is my get to… I ‘GET to’ do this.”
And so I asked her, “But do you ‘HAVE to?'”
And this is what she said:
“Yes, we are assigned these jobs, but we call them ‘get tos’ because we look at them as opportunities where we “get to” serve the families that are here. Because I am watching your family, you ‘get to’ enjoy them, so it’s a blessing to me.”
And right there, on the side of the lagoon, through a camp counselor named Hollywood, God spoke to me. Tears were streaming down my face (I figured I really freaked her out!) because I knew that God had answered my prayer from a few hours earlier and He was saying to me, “Darla, you are looking at everything in your life like a ‘have to.’ Those aren’t ‘have tos’… those are opportunities to serve your family. And when you are serving them, you are serving me. I gave you that husband and I gave you those children … they are your ‘get tos.'”
And in that moment, God used Pine Cove and that precious counselor to change my heart forever.
I went home with a new heart… one committed to having a “get to” attitude.
Now trust me: laundry and cooking and cleaning. It still gets old. But I do it with a different attitude now, and truly not a day goes by that I don’t look around, chaos and all, and think…
“I get to.”