I’m struggling a little bit with how to put this into words, so you may have to bear with me.
I’m working at a bible camp this week, which is a new thing for me. I’ve never BEEN to a bible camp much less worked at one, but our church is doing an outreach type of thing and that really intrigued me. My church is an affluent one, and there aren’t very many brown faces in the pews on Sunday. When I first started attending, I thought this was very strange because there are many ethnicities in the neighborhood, and also many different socioeconomic groups. Our church is trying to reach out to the neighborhood with bible camp this time.
Camp is purposely being held in the evenings, so that parents who are curious can come and check it out. We are sending vans to an apartment complex in the neighborhood and picking up and dropping off kids. I think that some church members are even knocking on doors. We’re serving food, and we’re having it outside, so that children don’t have to feel out of place in a church they’re unfamiliar with; we’re having it in the school yard next to our church. We are also welcoming anyone who wants to come, regardless of age. This means that for a 1st grade-5th grade bible camp, we have kids anywhere from age three to age thirteen.
I’m new to the whole church thing, so I try to keep my head down, do what I’m told and not piss off any of the church ladies. When I got home after the first night I told my husband, “it’s shame that I don’t ever get to use any of my God-given talents.” What I meant by that is I have spent my whole life being an organizer—I plan, I organize, I recruit, I energize the troops, I give orders. I take charge. After leaving college and moving to a new city or two, I’ve found that people don’t just hand the reins to a perfect stranger. So, I do my best being a minion and not getting in anybody’s way.
Sometimes your questions are answered before you even form them.
I think God wanted me to know that bossing people around is not my only talent. As I walked around on Tuesday, I felt very out of place with the young children—they were loud and boisterous, they didn’t understand simple questions, they didn’t get my corny jokes. I felt very uncomfortable with these kids. I was hanging out around crafts when the last group came through—girls, fifth grade and older. We hadn’t expected older kids, but they showed up, so they were placed in the fifth grade group. The group leaders were having a tough time with these girls—they just didn’t act like the other kids, and they weren’t as easy to lead either. To me, the situation was clear: things are different with middle school kids. Things are different with kids from low socioeconomic groups too.
I had an epiphany.
I have more than one talent. Working with this type of kid is my talent! Older, low-income kids is my niche. I didn’t even know I had a niche. In fact, I’m also pretty good with older, low-income kids with learning disabilities. This is an amazing revelation for me. I take my day-to-day life for granted—I never thought of talking to people, and relating to them as a talent. There are lots of people who can organize and boss people around, and maybe I’m not through doing that either. Maybe that’s a talent waiting in the wings for its next use. What I do know, with certainty, is that working with difficult kids is a much rarer thing, and I’m proud that it’s mine. I guess I’ve been using my God-given talents all along—I just didn’t know what they were.
I hope that didn’t sound like bragging. . .it was supposed to be more like self-revelation.