Forgiveness and Renewal

Written By: Anthea Wong, Summer Intern

   When people ask me how work is going, one word comes to mind: hectic. Over the past 4 weeks, I have experienced so many highs and lows at camp--from kids blowing me away with their answers during small group Bible time, to these same kids throwing full blown tantrums at the public pool. For a while, I thought I was handling work relatively well, but pretty soon I was feeling burnt out, stressed and impatient. Unfortunately, this began to affect how I interacted with the kids and how I disciplined them.

   Working with the youngest kids at ages 5-7, my energy is spent on capturing and maintaining their attention and when I don’t do a good job of this, they go insane and everything becomes very chaotic very quickly. Almost every day for the past few weeks, I felt like I was running after kids constantly, calling their names a million times, and handing out time outs every 5 minutes. I found myself starting to get easily frustrated when my kids didn’t listen to me or my coworkers and even doubtful that they learned anything during Bible time.

  I began to feel very disheartened because I started this job at TCM wanting to help these children by showing them God’s love and mercy, and here I was disciplining out of anger and getting frustrated while trying to teach them about the Bible. At some point during week 3, I felt a sense of sadness and guilt that I couldn’t shake off while I was preparing for my small group Bible lesson at home one night. My pride told me “Don’t worry about it, you’re just stressed, this is how everyone else would react too.” However, what I was telling myself was just “stress”, was actually sin that God was convicting me of.

   Then one morning I was in charge of devotions before camp and I stumbled upon Psalm 25:4-7 which says, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.” This passage hit me very hard because even though I had asked God to forgive me for my attitude and doubt, I felt like I was still coming up short and not worthy of forgiveness. At camp, I constantly wondered how my kids could be so disobedient and rebellious and this passage just revealed to me how much I act like my kids towards God. While reading this, I was reminded of my own iniquities but also of God’s mercy and goodness. I felt so humbled in that moment, but I also felt an incredible sense of forgiveness.

   Even though I still struggle with doubt and frustration, God has been so good and reminds me in those moments of how I should love as He first loved me. By God's grace, I find that I am able to be more loving and faithful. Through it all, I have been lucky enough to see behavioural changes in the kids. Kids whose manners were non-existent just 4 weeks ago, saying please and thank you now and even holds the door for each other.

  More amazingly, God constantly humbles me for underestimating my kids’ abilities to understand the Bible and His teachings. I have been so blessed to see the spiritual growth in my grade 1’s and 2’s. It is still crazy to me that they understand concepts like being humble and I know this for a fact because I make them act out what being humble means. Usually, this means letting other kids use the crayons first or wash their hands first; and while this humbleness only lasts for a bit, it is such an encouragement to see.  God continuously uses these moments to renew my spirit and my desire for these children to know Him, the One who showers us with mercy and perfect love.

Anthea is a summer intern at Flemingdon Park who secretly wishes her grade 1’s and 2’s didn’t hog all the crayons so that she could colour too.