Most people have heard the famous words “Kids say the Darndest things”. There has been many times that I have been completely stopped in my tracks, and blown away by how profound kids can be. I had one of these, profound and enlightening experiences yesterday.
*Names have been changed
At the closing event for this camp session, each cabin group were told to prepare a quick presentation of how they feel about their camp experience. (This session lasted from Monday-Friday) Most of them contained laughs, thank you-s, and some inside jokes. It was super neat to watch because the youth got to just be creative and be able to present in front of the entire group. (Our group was about 60 7-12 year olds, and about 20 adult staff members). For a lot of people this would be a very uncomfortable stage to stand on, 60 peers, and 20 elders!
One of the presentations allowed the campers in their cabin group to say what they are thankful for about this weeks experience. A couple of kids shared about their friends, ropes courses swimming and Gaga. One boy, Jacob, stood on the stage and said,
“I love Melissa a lot”
(Both campers, Jacob and Melissa, are in our 11-12 year old group) Obviously all the campers giggled because…thats what kids typically do when someone says “the L word”. All the counselors did the typical “aaaawwwweeeee”. Jacob got a little smile as he slowly retreated to the safety of his group. Campers continued to share, then he said softly “I got something else to say”. As Jacob stepped to the front of the amphitheater he got this amazing little smile as he was looking down at his feet. In this moment, I knew exactly how he felt. Torn between embarrassment from his friends and the calling to share again. The doubting thoughts of Melissa’s potential rejection due to this public presentation of their love. The pounding in his chest. His heart leading him, calling him to for one last proclamation of love to the group. He turned off his brain, and let his heart guide him. Jacob looked up slowly and said the most beautiful words:
“She is the best”
He was shouting from the rooftops! The small stage was his rooftop that he could let everyone know that Melissa completely has his heart!
A lot of adults would write this off. We often think that kids have no grasp on reality, and that this “love” they feel is not real. We say things like “that’s not love” “you’re too young to love” “you don’t even know what love is” “love is more than just talking and sitting next to each other” and many other things that completely demolish their feeling of love. This is their first taste of love, for someone outside of their family.
I can remember my first taste of love and man was it sweet! I was in the 3rd grade and completely in love with this girl. We would spend all of recess together, smile at each other in the hallways and sit next to each other at lunch. I can still remember the moment that she didn’t sit next to me at an assembly, and I got word that she “didn’t like me anymore”. Sitting in that gymnasium I felt so small. I don’t think my chest has ever hurt quite like that since. I remember watching the Varsity Girls Basketball team spinning basketballs on their fingers, and talking about who they are and what they want to be. I focused so hard on the presentation to try to take my mind off of my shattered heart. When I got home, I went straight to my room. I didn’t eat, play with legos, or turn on the TV. I just laid in my bed with a rock in my chest.
I remember my mom asking me what’s wrong and eventually I told her. She didn’t say anything typical adults say. She talked to me about how she felt when her and dad got divorced. How things may seem rough now, and that eventually I may move on. She told me this is completely fine to feel like this, and that it is a part of the universe. She concluded with
“When you love, heartbreak is a risk you are taking.”
Young people love so hard and full throttle. There are no walls, no limits, nothing stands between them. Their love is so innocent and pure. Why do adults down play this? I started to dig in to their relationship with a few staff members because I am completely blown away by it. I found out; they always sit next to each other, they will play basketball, frisbee, soccer, play in the dirt or whatever during free time-but they are always together. They write notes during rest time. Most importantly, they openly say “I love you” and are always smiling.
Imagine if this was your relationship with everyone! If this was every relationship, then the world would taste a whole lot sweeter.
Let me put it bluntly- (most) adults do not love like this.
I believe that perfect love does exist. I believe this love comes from God, and is the heart of how we love. Let me highlight a few scriptures:
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
“We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:19
When I truly dissect the love that Jacob and Melissa have, I see more resemblance to the love that Jesus has for us, than I do in most adult relationships. Their love resembles exactly what Paul explains in 1 Corinthians. We cannot downplay their love, because they love better than us. Their love is more righteous than ours. When asked the greatest commandment Jesus says “Love the lord your God, and Love your neighbor as yourself”. We are NOT commanded to love and hold back, love and don’t be honest with each other, love some and hate others, love and don’t totally surrender to them. We are commanded to LOVE.
I hope they never experience heartbreak. I pray that I can love all people as pure, honest, and full throttle like they do.
Don’t cloud up love.
Don’t bring your worldly experience into this truly divine emotion.
Love. Simply Love.