About a year ago, I received a message on Facebook from a guy named Sam Kuhnert, asking me if I'd be interested in coaching kids at a sports camp he and his mom, Jana Kunert, put on for kids with limb differences. I thought it sounded like an awesome opportunity, especially since I have a soft spot in my heart for those kids, having been one myself many moons ago. Of course, I accepted this chance to help those kids!
As the time for camp got closer and closer, I started to get nervous and feel a bit of anxiety. I actually contemplated backing out. However, I knew that would not be the right thing to do. I had already committed to this! As much as I wanted to back out, I could not let Jana and Sam down after all they did to make this happen. It wouldn't be right, and wouldn't be fair. So, I sucked it up and went.
The first night, I was dead dog tired and a total party pooper because of it. I felt completely out of my element and definitely out of my comfort zone. Why? I have no idea. I was around all these awesome kids, coaches, staff who had limb differences, as well as many other great people. You would think that being around so many people who are like me would make me feel comfortable! For whatever reason though, I was about a million miles away from my little box of comfort. I told my boyfriend that it was just overwhelming. Being in the company of so many other limb-different people is something I haven't ever experienced. It was new, different, and uncomfortable for me. In the next breath (or text rather,) I told him that getting out of my comfort zone will be good for me. Like the saying goes...if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. This was apparently going to be quite a challenge.
After getting a good night's sleep, I felt refreshed and ready to take on this challenge, get my butt to camp, and make the best of it. Little did I know, I was about to embark upon the most amazing weekend of my life!! I had more fun than I could ever have imagined! I met the most amazing kids on this Earth and fell in love with every one of them that I got to interact with. I heard some incredible stories....stories of turning tragedy into triumph, from coaches as well as kids! The smiles on those kids' faces, the pure joy they exude, and the determination in their faces made everything worthwhile. Those kids inspired me and blessed me way more than I possibly could have inspired/blessed them. I couldn't believe that the thought of not going even crossed my mind. If I had done that, I would have not only disappointed some amazing people, but I would have robbed myself of joy and blessings beyond measure. I made new friends, found a new purpose, and I can't wait to go back next year...and every year thereafter!!
I also want to share with you something that really stuck out in my mind. Sat morning, we had breakfast in the cafeteria, and the coaches could volunteer to share a "God moment" or testimony with the campers and their families. Of course I jumped at the chance to speak to them. When I was done, I listened to several other coaches talk about their own experiences, and there seemed to be a common thread. A soccer coach named Bree was telling the story about how she lost one of her legs and nearly the other one too. She was telling how it turned out to be a blessing in her life. She was thankful that this (and this is what rang loud and clear to me) was "GIVEN TO HER." She didn't say she was thankful for what was TAKEN FROM HER, but rather GIVEN. This was the common thread throughout each coach's testimony, even if some of us (me) took longer to get to that point. That message will forever stay with me. Sometimes we don't understand why things happen to us, but God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. The sooner we accept that we have a purpose and realizing/executing/living our purpose, the sooner we will be blessed and be a blessing to others. I was one of those people who, when I was younger, didn't want whatever it was God had for me to do. I didn't want to be an "inspiration." Why couldn't someone else be an inspiration? I was a girl who used to go to bed at night, repent for whatever sins I had made, and then prayed that I wouldn't wake up. Every morning I woke up was another disappointing unanswered prayer. I now thank God He didn't answer those prayers! When I finally decided to accept the purpose and job God had for me AND began doing it, I too realized what a blessing my life is. I only wish I had accepted it so many years earlier, like Bree and the other coaches.
I hope that next time you're in a situation that takes you out of your comfort zone, you embrace it. You never know how rewarding it will be!!