Our work was cut out for us.
We spent the week letting too much water splash onto the bathroom counter and soak our shorts in order to fill 700 water balloons. We poured flour into 300 napkins, making sweet bombs whose powder would fill the summer sky in just a few days. We shopped for crates of eggs, and numerous buckets of ice cream, icing, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup.
As we unloaded our findings at the cash register, the couple behind us chuckled, “What in the world are you guys shopping for?”
I always pause when I answer this question, because it is just too good to explain to a stranger that you eat lunch with middle schoolers, perform crazy skits for them, and plan an entire afternoon to just getting messy and playing games, and call it Wyldlife.
But, that’s what I told the couple as I pointed to each ingredient and told them all about those plans we had–
Ice cream sundae relays. Colored icing to differentiate teams. Duck, duck, egg– honestly, what could be better than explaining that to a stranger?
I call the next day the “big day.” The day all our efforts would flourish and we could enjoy the work we’d put in. We thought we had everything planned out. We knew where to be and what to do, and were eager to show up for the task at hand. As storms rolled into the afternoon though, doubts taunted us. We were hopeful though. Maybe naive too, but still hopeful. Even as the thunder shook the skies and the water ran in deep streams along the sidewalks, we hoped the plans wouldn’t cancel. We hoped that what we had spent so much time preparing for wouldn’t wash away like the dirt on the ground. But of course, and with good reason, we postponed our much-anticipated Yuck Wars.
With my umbrella above my head, I waded across the waters of Richland Avenue. I climbed the three flights of stairs to my room. I took off my sloshing wet shoes. Put on my dry clothes. And I crawled into bed–
That was the climax of my plans changing. Sleep.
When I woke up just an hour later, the sun peered through the window. Immediately I thought about my thanks for that much-needed rest. I thought about how happy I was to finally sit down from the week. And as I sat across the room from my roommate, I said, “This is cheesy, but I’m so happy that God’s plans don’t change because of rain, even when mine do.”
God’s plans don’t change, even when mine do.
:: :: ::
The following week almost felt like a repeat.
We looked once more toward a Friday that had Yuck Wars written all over it. We filled a few more water balloons. Invited our middle school friends again. And when Friday came, we knew what to do, where to be, and once again, we were eager for the task at hand.
For us though, it wasn’t just an hour of Yuck Wars. It was an hour and a half of set-up, another 30 minutes of clean up, and an entire night dedicated to a Leadership meeting and a football game to once again visit our friends at Franklin Road Academy. For us, it wasn’t a short, ill-planned thing to do on a Friday afternoon. It was a long day.
When the football game neared its end and we exchanged goodbyes, I walked to my car with a pounding head. I replayed the conversations and laughs and moments of the day in my head, and the more I tried to store the sweet moments in my mental library the more tired I became.
When I made it back to campus, I crawled into my yoga pants and jersey sheets, and wrapped the large tub of pretzels in my arms. I stayed completely still and motionless for several minutes. And as I crunched on pretzel after pretzel, I wondered–
“I hope this wasn’t in vain. Oh, how I hope this wasn’t in vain,” the words resounded. The blood in my veins moved slower at the thought.
I’m too tired for this to be without purpose. Please make this meaningful. Please make this something. Please don’t let this be in vain.
:: :: ::
Something about the coming autumn thrills me to keep going and keep hoping.
That night, by grace alone, I got up and went for a walk with the sweetest boy I know. As we soaked up the autumn weather and stepped on the few fallen leaves, the day continued on loop in my head. He listened as I thought and remembered out loud. He just listened as I wrestled with the things I was beginning to learn from the day.
And just an hour later, as I lay in bed and forced myself to keep my eyes open just long enough to look through the pictures from the day, as well as find the words to post with each one, the day kept moving. But this time, I didn’t question if the hours put into these few pictures were useless.
This time, I hoped there could be meaning found in simply laughing. In playing games. In doing things that you couldn’t do on any normal day—things like smearing icing on your face and embracing white, baking flour hardening your hair. I saw purpose in every conversation I shared with a teammate in the bathroom as we splattered balloons and water on the walls and counter.
This time, I hoped there could be meaning in simply loving life and enjoying what we’re given.
:: :: ::
That’s glorifying. Enjoying life is glorifying—
There is something so glorifying about spending hours working toward something that others will enjoy more than you. About showing up again when those plans change. About hustling for hours and hours, just for a chance to hang out and laugh with people half your age.
I saw Grace when the selfless question was asked, “I’m here, what can I do?” And saw the answer in a frenzy of messes stretching across an entire field by 60 middle school kids–
Laugh, get messy, make life come alive during this hour–
Just be here because life needs these messy, fun, quirky moments.