I was 8 years and 4 months old, and I was a junior camper!
This was something of a dream come true in itself, as my older siblings had been campers at Florida Apostolic Youth Camp for years and I’d always just had to stay with my boring parents and baby sister.
But this year was my year.
Oversize collar, glasses that extended from brow bone to mid-cheek, and bouffant half-up hairdo in place, I set off to the small building that served as the Junior Camp chapel.
A handful of girls were already there, and a row of Bibles and purses covered the front pew made of rickety folding chairs on the left side of the aisle. I was informed that those seats were taken, but I wanted to sit in the front row too! Somehow, 20 years ago it was cool to sit in the front, not the back. Not sure when that changed, by the way, but it should change back.
Not to worry though, there were still chairs on the right hand side of the aisle! I plopped down in a front middle seat, spread out my red plaid jumper, flipped my fluffy hair over the back of the chair and waited for class to start.
The girls on the left shot a couple of looks my way, but I ignored them, resplendent in the inevitable acknowledgement of my superior problem solving skills.
Until the boys started trickling in.
See, there was this unwritten rule that I didn’t know about in Junior Camp.
Boys, and presumably their horde of male cooties, sat on the left. Girls in red plaid jumpers with half up hair in tortoiseshell Goody’s barrettes (and all other varieties) sat on the right.
I reverted to what I still do in any emergency situation:
I froze, quickly crossing the line from panicked desperation to stony humiliation. I couldn’t move! Everyone had already seen me on the boys side! Simultaneously, my 8-year-old brain decided that if I just stayed put, suddenly no one would notice my egregious faux pas.
Which they did. They all did.
Since girls also have cooties, I still had the row to myself in a quickly filling room. Which wasn’t helping the awkwardness so much.
Until he walked in.
Let’s call him Danny** (Not his real name, for what will soon be obvious reasons).
Danny was tall, with a mop of dark hair over warm brown eyes, and he was at least 11. Actually, he was definitely 11 because 12-year-olds were considered Senior campers. Anyway. Those milk chocolate eyes met mine, and he did not look away awkwardly. In fact, he smiled. Then angels sang, the Heavens opened, and Danny sat down at the end of my conspicuously empty row with a friendly nod and introduced himself.
In that moment, Danny became my first, official boy crush.
I was instantaneously in puppy love. For me, puppy love manifested in the absolute inability to carry on a lucid conversation with the person I liked. Talkative to the point of being thoroughly annoying usually, I was awkward at even making eye contact with boys and conversational ability didn’t emerge until around 14.
Which is where Danny reappears.
See, we went to this camp every year. And every year, I crushed on Danny for a solid month or two (ADHD kicked in after a few weeks, and fortunately there were other pretty boys in the world or I might’ve become a dorky, teenage stalker).
But I never talked to him.
I did come super close when I was 13! While my posse of much less awkward girlfriends were positioned “casually” outside the camp dorms (because girls just always stand around in 100+ degree heat for no sane reason) I thought it would be super cute to perch myself on a metal railing that stood along the sidewalk next to the dorm doors.
Since I have horrible balance, I hooked my black, platform Steve Madden flip flops over the middle rail to give me some stability. And just like in all our dreams of ultimate, posed coolness, Danny and his gaggle chose that perfect moment to walk out and right up to us!
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
Apparently, that verse does not apply to Steve Madden’s black stretchy flip flops. Because they forsook me. And the Lord did not oblige to take me anywhere.
The black stretchiness decided it had stretched all it was gonna stretch. And in sheer revolt, both flip flops exited both my feet and the bar at a high rate of speed and with a decent arc too, if I recall correctly.
Which I might not, having immediately pitched forward with barely enough time to get my hands between my face and the concrete. My resultant bloody lip was pretty memorable though, and one of the girls hustled my flaming, bruised face back into the dorms while another located those stupid shoes.
I sedulously avoided Danny for the rest of the week.
The Steve Maddens met an early, furious end, stabbed multiple times with a pair of scissors and dumped in a commercial trash can.
But there’s always next year. And I determined the next year would be my year. Again.
Fortunately, between age 13 and age 14, my conversational abilities did improve. Still incapable of flirting, I could at least talk almost normally to members of the opposite gender. And while I didn’t always know when my nervous chatter had turned into a runaway train, I started to pick up on the “Story too long, abort, abort!” social cues.
6 years of intermittent crushing came down to this one moment.
FAYC was now Legacy. Lake Yale, Florida was now Norman Park, Georgia.
But Danny still had beautiful brown eyes.
We were standing in the same small group of people. I had strategically meandered my way around the group to stand in natural chatting position next to him. The moment had come.
Those eyes turned to me, and Danny opened his mouth…
And what followed was quite possibly one of the most abysmally dull exchanges I have ever had to participate in during my nearly 3 decades on this planet. Within minutes, my eyes glazed over, and it was taking all of my faculties not to let my tongue loll out of my head. I began desperately seeking for some way to improve the situation, but bless him, the kid took boring to realms unknown. Unknown, because no one has ever wanted to go there!
three hundred hours ten minutes later, I politely (I hope) extricated myself and let a goggle-eyed blonde girl take my place. No eyes of any color can redeem the conversational equivalent of overcooked rice pudding.
Bless his heart.
So that meandering story leads us to my thought for this week:
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
In other words
“When you get what you want, will you want what you get?” –Rev. Ben Weeks
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
I often think I know what I want. I plan and dream and scheme and wish with the best of them. But I’ve been a parent long enough to realize that not everything someone wants is really what they want. And sometimes what we want is downright not good for us.
But even after pining for a boy for 7(ish) years, only to realize that he was absolutely not a good fit for me, I still get ideas of what I think I want stuck in my head: A bigger business, more money, dogs that don’t stink, chemical-free kiddie pools that never turn green. And I struggle to submit those things that I’m convinced are exactly what we need to the One who truly does know the end from the beginning.
Which is just as silly as trying to look cool by balancing my rear end on a two inch metal bar.
Fortunately, the rewards of waiting on His plan are pretty awesome.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
And, in case you were wondering, my husband has absolutely beautiful blue eyes.