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Anchored In Hope - Sophia

As we near the end of our summer programming here at camp, I'm asking some of our summer staff to share what God has been teaching them during their time at camp this summer.

Our first summer staff guest is Senior Counselor Sophia Broers. This is Sophia's second year on summer staff and first year as a senior counselor. Sophia has primarily been serving on our day camp teams and as a counselor at our Okoboji site for youth and family camps this summer. She is from central Iowa, is an amazing artist, and an incredibly brave young woman.

My name is Sophia Broers and I am a camp counselor at Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camp. I came into my second summer of camp this year feeling incredibly broken. I had just finished my freshman year of college, which had been the most challenging year of my entire life. In August, I tore a ligament in my ankle while running collegiate cross country which led to me giving up a huge part of my identity as a runner by leaving the team. In October, I got diagnosed with clinical anxiety and started a journey through several medications that negatively affected my physical health and didn’t actually help my mental health at all. In March, I made the decision to end a relationship with a man who I still loved, which caused me to become depressed to the point I was considering suicide.

All in all, I felt like I had been defeated as a Christian, and to be honest, I didn’t want to come to camp. I was ashamed of the person I had become and I didn’t know what a broken girl with a weakened faith had to offer all of the people that were going to come here looking for hope I didn’t have anymore.

Nevertheless, I had committed to come work at camp months before, so I knew I was still going to go. I basically decided that, in order to actually accomplish any work for the Lord, I was going to have to do a whole lot of pretending. I needed to be the version of Sophia everyone remembered from the summer before - the Sophia who was on fire for the Lord. That was the version of me people loved; who could possibly love the dirty, broken person this girl had become?

Welp, God, apparently.

God changed my perspective completely. Instead of hiding my mistakes and feelings, God used my friends at camp to allow me to open up. I told them about how difficult my year had been and how I wasn’t proud of the person I had become. I didn’t hide the memories of sin that had invaded my life even though it was embarrassing. Initially, I had been so afraid that they would reject me, tossing me aside for not being “Christian enough” or “godly enough” to be their friend. However, just the opposite happened. My friends met me with open arms and genuine prayers, telling me that they loved me and were so happy I was there. The last year of my life hadn’t changed their feelings about me or their belief that I was the perfect fit to be a camp counselor. And I believed them.

This summer has been incredible. I have connected so well with my campers and done my very best to show them the love and service I know Jesus would show me. Even though I hadn’t wanted to come to camp initially, I was so grateful God had brought me here anyway. It was just the place I needed to be to set me back on track and remind me that He still had a purpose and meaning for my life which couldn’t be undone. God had known what was going to happen to me, and He still had a plan. He hadn’t given up on me, and that gave me hope once again that something beautiful could come out of my life after all.

The best illustration for what God has shown me this summer came to me from one of my sweet little camp friends, who was drawing a picture next to me. For some context, I am an art and graphic design major, so he was closely watching what I was creating and trying his best to mimic it. As I carefully scrawled out a name in cursive, my little friend looped his own marker around and around over his paper. His creation was a perfectly jumbled mess, but the lines looked more like squiggly patterns than actual letters. He suddenly dropped his face into his hands and miserably asked me, “How do you do that? I can’t do it. My picture looks terrible.”

I smiled at his sweet little face, which was unusually close to tears. This wasn’t the first time I had been told this, and like always, I responded with, “Just turn it into something else! There is no such thing as a mistake in art. It doesn’t have to start beautiful, but you can change it into something incredible!” My teary friend didn’t believe me, so I traded papers with him so he could have my neat cursive and I could add to his drawing. I took orange and pink and brown and black and brushed the markers over and around his scribbles to create a beautiful hand gently reaching one hand toward the side of the page. Then I showed him what his picture had become: a beautiful image that incorporated his mess. In fact, the mess added an additional element that made the picture even more interesting and special.

Looking back on this event, I see so clearly God’s role as the Artist in this story. With my life, I had done my best to live the way God wanted me to and I had fallen way short. My life was an ugly mess I couldn’t sort through and there was no way to fix it. And yet, when I finally handed it back to God, He had began to weave it into something beautiful. My mistakes and flaws are all becoming a part of a beautiful picture I could never have imagined, desired, or dreamed of. And what is so amazing about it was that the picture includes the mess! God hasn’t given up on me because my picture wasn’t good enough. In fact, all He wants is for me to hand it over to Him so He can turn it into the beautiful picture He knows it can be.

In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I love this Bible verse because it puts words to my story - what it has been and what I know now it will be. God can take the muck of you and me and this world and transform it into glory. No task is too big or too hard or too dirty or too dark for Him to turn it into something else and make it beautiful.

Follow Up - Because none of us are perfect, we have all made mistakes in life. Which mistakes have you made which make it hard to believe that God can use you to make a difference in the world?

- Who has helped you see the beauty which can come out of the messes in your life?

- When someone comes to you feeling broken and less than, how can you be sure you respond with the same compassion Sophia's friend's responded with?

**Note - While Sophia is an excellent artist, I didn't have time to get any of her art uploaded for this post. It is in honor of her interest in art that the images included were selected.


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