The summers when I was 16 and 17 changed my life.
Now I don’t mean that like a regular teenager would have put it. I’m 24, so when I say my life was changed, I mean it now. I don’t see a random guy who I went out once with to change my life (unless something traumatic happened). But they really changed my life.
The summers when I was 16 and 17 changed my life for 1 reason. Chicago. I went on a 10 day out-reach to the inner city Chicago both summers.
For some kids, going to the city isn’t a big deal. But for me, it was a big deal. I’m the daughter of a farmer/rancher and nurse from southwestern North Dakota. Long vacations were tough to come by due to the fact there was always something going on whether it was seeding or harvest, weaning, calving, the state showing up for their yearly review of the nursing home. So the city was new and then to go into inner-city was a bigger deal. First time in my life that I was a minority. First time I had seen that kind of poverty. First time I had smelled that amount of pot. One of the first times that I had worshiped that kind of way, not that I hadn’t gone in full-fledged worship before but the first time I had prayed to the 4 direction and the first time that I had been heart-broken for that many people. Going straight into God-time and worship was never a problem.
I had fun during that time and it was a lot of work but at the time I didn’t fully realize how much it changed me. I knew I came back different. I knew God had touched my life during that time but looking back, I see it so much clearer and I appreciate it more.
Today I was at work and I quickly checked Facebook and one of my high school friends is now a young adult pastor in Bismarck and he had posted one of his sermons for his kids and he was talking about the different names of God. I was sitting there thinking about who we both were when we were in high school. (so many w’s in that sentence. Yay, alliteration!)
He has always been a strong guy, in personality, in faith. He’s stronger now though. That’s what I have always appreciated about him. He’s never faltered, that I’ve seen.
I have never faltered. I hesitate when I say that because my faith is different from when it was when I was 16 and 17. I have always believed. I sometimes ask why a certain thing happens, which I think the majority of people go through. What’s different though is that I don’t enter into worship like I used to. I have lost a level of un-hesitancy. Which is why I hesitate when I talk about how my faith was then and now. It’s changed. I pray differently, but I’m an adult I see things now differently than when I was 16. Back then I would pray “God help Cody be a Christian so I can date him” now it’s “God protect my future husband” something like that.
But Chicago changed my life. Why? First of all it changed how I see people. It opened my scope on what happens outside of my little corner and my normal isn’t everyone else’s norm. Second of all, I think that God put a passion in my heart for people who don’t know. People who don’t know God, whose education is not what I received. In southwestern North Dakota, everyone knows of God. Everyone goes to church, not that they all have a relationship with God. I also think that Chicago changed me in the way I present my faith. Now I know that you can’t just jump into telling people about God and I know that there are reasons on why people do things. Some people you have to ease into it. Back then I didn’t know. I was so busy telling people about God and thinking how they were wrong in their decisions.
If not for going to Chicago, I doubt that I would have that kind of passion for people. If not for Chicago, I don’t think I would have ventured out of my area and seen how other people live. I would have just stayed in a little nicer part of town. I have a lot to owe to those 20 days.
I apologize if this seems rambling.