The Unexpected Summer Part 1

Intro- The Pit

For the longest time, I would record my prayers in a journal during my Quiet Time, my side of a conversation with the Creator of the Universe. They tended to be a roller coaster but they were sincere. Some time in August last year, though, I stopped praying. I refused.

In the two years since I graduated college, I’d slowly descended into a mud-lined pit of destruction that leaves one’s soul cold, empty, and depressed. I’ve tried to crawl up, but I often just slide back down to the base, exhausted. Praying started to feel like empty promises, and I couldn’t do it to myself anymore.

Entries stopped filling my journal. In January, I tried getting a couple more entries in, but nothing stuck. I prefered laying on the dirty floor of the pit than trying to crawl up the slippery edge, only to slide back down again.

When I wasn’t a substitute teacher, I helped out with the Youth Group at my church (which I’m aware is a weird choice for someone refusing to pray at the moment) but during the summers, a group of college kids, called the Interns, came and help lead. I interned once back when I was in college, but because I’m three years past that, I told myself that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that would get me to Intern again...

 

Chapter 1- The Substitute Intern

Two weeks in, one of the Interns realized that he needed to drop out to dedicate himself to his classes (admirable). In a brief discussion, the idea of bringing me on to fill in his role came up. I wanted nothing to do with taking that step backward, but my bank account was in the negatives and I was so depressed that I didn’t really have anything exciting coming up for potentially the rest of my life… so…

 

Journal Entry 6-14-18

“Interning Again… Somehow”

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been in the strongest place mentally, emotionally, socially, or even spiritually. I have been so reckless in finding agency that I confused it with control. I have been mad, with pure anger, at the universe around me like it has chosen to attack me by being wholly out of my control.

So I would hide…

Venture into a crafted reality in my mind, built only to replace what I felt I was being cut off from. But after a while a feedback loop starts to ring. My brain quickly realizes that it is reading itself and the deafening scream grows.

A bench at Eagle Rock has a quote on it, “If you don’t know what to do, do what’s in front of you.” I have avoided this situation because I was afraid it would be a step back, but, thankfully, my mind is clear enough to know that it would be foolish to refuse the hand being offered to bring me out of this pit.

 

Chapter 2- Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock is a mission trip our youth group takes every summer up to the mountains of Tennessee where we run a VBS for the kids in the surrounding communities. Becoming an Intern right before Eagle Rock meant that this was my first experience getting back into the game.

 

Journal Entry 6-17-2018

“Downing the Kool-aid”

Eagle Rock has an energy around it that can be pretty frightening but it’s honestly worth it to become overcome by it. Accept the air I am being provided.

My primary goals are that I need to live in reality this week. The comforting reverie is both unhealthy and experiencing major feedback problems. I know I have it within me but I am often quick to run to it in times of silence. Relationships aren’t built in the mind of one person.

 

Now, before we explore these next few entries, remember that I was in a deep pit less than a week before this. I know… I agreed to be a leader to a ton of teenagers in a bad emotional place. I definitely didn’t take the time I should have to heal, and what you are about to read is not something I’m super proud of… but it’s an important part of this story.

 

Journal Entry 6-19-2018

“The Inadequate Zach”

Last night I was able to name what one of my biggest issues is: my feeling of inadequacy.

I mess up with the sound equipment I’m expected to understand. I haven’t learned how to get a job. My social skills are abysmal. I’m 24 and watching my peer group around me pursue committed relationships and tie the knot while I struggle to find and understand a feeling of mutual desire I have wanted for the past 15 years.

I am fundamentally broken but the worst of it is my difficulty growing. I know I’m no one’s first choice in anything, and I’ve honestly learned to be happy about that. I will never fully satisfy what people need in a mentor, friend, or companion.

I can try as hard as I want, but I feel like I’m trying to move with cement blocks strapped to my feet.

 

Journal Entry 6-19-2018

“A Big Ask”

My depression has reared its ugly head out like a Kraken. I wish it would not happen in the pressurized cabin that is Eagle Rock, but it’s here and I need Your help to make sure it doesn’t hurt anyone.

My decision to become Intern was admittedly rash (and slightly based in a financial need) and I’m not sure it was the smartest play. At the same time, I know You trust me with it since You even made the offer available.

My feelings of inadequacy, my life unlived, this stupid sound equipment; there are a lot of loud noises shouting at me at the moment. I’m losing my strength to ride out this storm and I’m afraid it’s starting to affect those around me.

LORD, lift this depression from me; the whole damn package. Fill in me a sense of adequacy and worth that will help me to move forward and be what You need me to be to these kids.

 

Journal Entry 6-22-2018

“The One Day That Ended Up Mattering a Whole Awful Lot”

Isaiah 6:1-13

“The Holy seed is it’s stump.”

Like a phoenix, we rise from the ashes of our own pain and destruction. We have been burned down and left a stump, gone but still present in the smallest way. From that we will grow, soiled by the cleansing of evil and showered with nutrients from the LORD.

The last day is always bittersweet. I really need to be intentional and remember that my Eagle Rock doesn’t end this week. I will be transitioning into a full TRCC [The Rock Community Church] summer.

I know I need to get a job lined up by the end of the summer and find better footing, but I also need to take more care in following the path You have laid out for me. Patience shall be fun [sarcasm].

 

Journal Entry 6-23-2108

“...and Back Again”

The ride home is often the signal of a journey's end; a coming time of rest and reallocation with the world. For Bilbo, it meant returning to a life he preferred, though the change within him nagged at him for the rest of his life.

I’m in this summer for the full ride and I trust that You have filled me with the strength to carry on. The voice still growls, attached to my thoughts.

But, I am not the Inadequate Zach. I am the Adequate Zach; voice to the voiceless, protector of the sound stuff, and generally a pretty cool dude. This bus trip has the potential to become a minefield of social anxiety, but I pray that You give me the strength to be the best leader, the best friend, and the best me.

The journey home is riddled with it’s own adventure and we must seek the various opportunities that present themselves.

 

I’m happy to say that the bus trip was actually pretty good. Little shaky at the start, but as we crossed the second half I had a couple peaceful naps, fellowship at the meals, and a community session of tearing apart Disney’s Camp Rock… in good fun (I also discovered my desire for a trumpet beverage dispenser).