I already said that my small group leader, out of all the things at the Summit, made the greatest impact on my life. Although that is true, I don’t wish to give you the impression that nothing else mattered. That would be far from the truth. In fact, the runner up is so close that they could nearly be considered equal.
I once read that every Christian should have a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy in their life. Paul would be a mentor, or a Christian that you respected and trusted, who could pour into your life (like my small group leader!). A Barnabas is a close friend who is on your level. Barnabas is the friend that you have an open honesty – both ways, where each person trusts the other, and pours into the other’s life. Finally, a Timothy is the younger Christian you pour into. This concept intrigued me. I can see the biblical basis for these difference relationships, but I had never really experienced any of them for myself.
Summit changed that.
At first, I had a hard time making friends. It wasn’t that I hadn’t come in contact with my friends, just the opposite. All but one of my closest friends at the Summit lived in the rooms next to mine. A few were in my small group. Others sat next to me in class. I was actually spending time with the girls I would become close with, I just didn’t know them as friends yet. My small group leader can attest to this – we actually had quite a few conversations about how I was feeling a little lonely. She often told me, “Don’t worry. I didn’t find my friends until the end of the first week.” I honestly doubted what she said. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t make any close friends. Even so, she was right. I got to know my friends on the weekend.
By the start of the second week, I felt like I had a good group of friends to hang out with. We would always eat together and we hung out together a lot. We played games, discussed lectures, pranked each other, and just lived life together. Even though it would seem nearly impossible to make any type of close, honest, and trusting relationship with one person in two weeks, by the end of the Summit, I had several close friends. In class, I sat a seat away from Sadie*, who happened to be one of my neighbors. We struck up a great friendship after a few days of talking to each other in class during discussion times, and my failed attempt to make it up Red Mountain with her (make a note, do not eat expired granola bars before hiking. It’s just a really bad idea!). Kaylie, who was in my small group, ended up being a really close friend at and after the Summit. I think we really became friends after a conversation we had on the way to sports time one day, when she decided to quiz me about Curacao. It was a really interesting conversation, and it seemed to open the door to our friendship! Angi, another friend of mine from the Summit, means a lot to me as well. In fact, my favorite story from the Summit is when we realized that we not only live within twenty minutes of each other, but that we happen to have mutual friends who sort of introduced us about a year ago!
The other cool community-thing at the Summit was small groups. During small groups we shared our stories, talked about the lectures, explained what we were struggling with, and stuff like that. Even though I didn’t appreciate it enough right away, the small groups helped me grow. As I told you in lay last post, our small group leader was (and still is) great. The girls in my small group were really nice, too! I think we all grew a little more in our small group times 🙂 One of my favorite parts, though, involved Kaylie. One day, I got to our small group room early. Kaylie showed up a minute or two after I did, and for a little while, we were the only people in our small group room (except for our small group leader, who was coming in and out, getting things ready). The lecture before small groups had been really good, but also convicting. As Kaylie came in, we started to talk about it. After a few minutes, we sat right next to each other on the couch, and prayed together. After we said “amen,” Kaylie and I both realized something – that was the first time we had actually voluntarily started talking and praying with a friend, without someone else’s prompting. It felt like I had made my faith my own, in a way. Like we had both learned to take responsibility for our relationships with God together. I think I grew a lot that night, and I’m so thankful for Kaylie, our small group, and our small group leader. God really worked through them!
Well, I’d love to tell you more about the girls I met at the Summit, but if I did, my post would be over two thousand words. But I will tell you this: the friendships I made there mean so much to me! I am so grateful for meeting (or re-meeting) all of these girls. I know God really had a plan in mind for me and them at the Summit. He gave me great friends – they’re girls that I know I can trust. And God used them to teach me how to pray with others and share with others, but also how to have fun with a bunch of great girls. I am so thankful that God decided to show me what real community looks like! Now that I’m back home, I’m trying to keep in touch with these girls. Now that I know what it’s like, I realize how important it is that we strive to follow Christ together.
*I haven’t used anyones real names, for privacy’s sake.