The summer after my sophomore year at Illinois State University I worked as a camp counselor in the middle of Pike National Forest in Colorado. The next summer I was asked to come back to camp as a Service Crew Counselor. Service Crew kids and counselors spend their summers cleaning toilets, cooking food, and digging holes around camp. I said, “Um, let me think about it. No way.”

I said yes to coming back the next summer as a Program Director, because that seemed more my style – leading, managing, and speaking. I enjoyed it very much, but I really regret not doing the Service Crew gig.

It’s only taken me 20 years to realize that I’m not really gifted to lead or speak or manage people. I can do it. I have done it. I will do more of it in my life time, but what really gets my blood flowing is physical work that meets a tangible need.

I spent this past weekend cooking for 60 college students at our Spring Prayer Retreat. The week before I planned the menu, did the shopping (hello 3 trips to Sams and a 15 passenger van full of food!!), and prepped as much food as I could. On Friday night I put on my apron and basically didn’t come out of the kitchen until Sunday (with the exception of a two very sweet times in prayer with our students).

I enjoyed every aspect of it – from scrubbing potatoes to making veggie tray after veggie tray. I loved cleaning up and tip toeing in extra early to cut up fruit and scrub pans. On Sunday I came home with more energy than I’ve had in months. Ben and I talked all afternoon and stayed up to watch the Oscars. (By the way – what was up with Renee Zellweger’s face??)

I’m a little ashamed of the reasons why I didn’t see myself as a service crew kind of girl. I aspired to leadership and the spot light when I would have been happiest and most myself scrubbing floors. Even this weekend I felt a little guilty that I was having so much fun working in the kitchen. Part of me wondered if I was hiding from responsibility or shirking relationship or backing away from making a “spiritual” contribution.

But part of me was just happy to be hard at work, feeding the people I love.

6 thoughts on “Regrets

  1. Ooo….you would have loved the camp E and I met at…lots of scrubbing and dirt 🙂
    I was thinking the EXACT SAME THING WITH RENEE’S FACE!! Plastic surgery I’d guess or a bit too much botox. Sad, sad, sad!

  2. Katie says:

    Wow Jess. Thanks for posting. This is amazing. I’m so encouraged by this and so happy to hear you feel this way. You put in a ton of work to make it happen. THANK YOU! My favorite line was the end… feeding the people I love. Do you realize that you just wrote you love US? The U of I Navs? The Lord is doing an awesome work. Moves are so hard, but to see you write this encourages me!!

  3. Archie says:

    Jes, your observations resonated with me and so many of my own choices. There was much more I could have done, especially at the Glen and/or Eagle Lake. And the opportunities were plentiful. But I was no where near mature enough to recognize them. I think God teaches us what is really important through the regrets of opportunities squandered. But I also realize the God has us here, now, with the experiences we have had, the regrets we may face, for a reason. We would not be the people we are today if it were not for those experiences. It has made me more keenly aware of the opportunities around us to “make up” for lost time. God had us experience that time in our lives the way we did for a good reason…which may not be clear, but in time will make our relationship with Christ stronger.

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