It’s celebrated on billboards and television advertisements. It’s featured on almost every item in every store you visit. From fanciful flower arrangements to brightly decorated balloons, the message of love erupts each February. But genuine love isn’t found in chocolate boxes, teddy bears and heart-shaped candy messages.
Love (real love) is the perfect balance of grace and truth. Grace allows us to treat others with patience, gentleness, understanding, and forgiveness. Truth enables us to function with honesty, integrity, accountability, and encouragement.
As a mom, I see this balance of grace and truth every day in my home. It’s in the little moments with my children – the moments when I have to remind my boys to brush their teeth every night before bed; the moments when they question (again) why they have to brush their teeth (again); and the moments when I tell them it’s because I love them, I know what’s best for them, I have their futures in mind, and I don’t want them to end up as 18-year-olds with dentures!
The truth is … truth doesn’t always look like truth to my kids. Wisdom doesn’t always look like wisdom. And love doesn’t always look like love. Sometimes love is difficult and painful – and that’s where grace comes in. I need grace to speak truth to them, grace to bear patiently with them through their failures, grace to forgive and instruct and encourage. But while it’s easy (for the most part) for moms and dads to show love like this, it’s rare for our children to find it elsewhere.
That’s where camp comes in. Camp provides the perfect social structure where grace and truth can exist together outside the home. At camp, we live in a community in which boundaries, expectations, and responsibilities simultaneously exist with safety, support, comfort and forgiveness. We forgive each other when we mess up. We remind each other it’s okay to fail. We encourage each other that we’ll be better next time. We believe in one another, speak truth to one another, and hold each other accountable so that we WILL be better as we grow and mature and encounter all that life has to offer.
Our mission at Camp Highlander, To Love and Be Loved, isn’t just something that we say, it is something that we do each and every day. Some might ask, “But what about my child who will be a first-time camper, how will you love them?” Or, “What about that new staff member who doesn’t know my camper even though they’re returning for a third summer? Can they possibly love them already?”
The answer is yes! We CAN love them the moment we meet them because we train our staff to know what real love looks like. Love is our choice. Love is our way. Our staff learn that this is how we show love to our campers - we will always expect a lot from them but we will also forgive a lot. This kind of love, this balance of grace and truth, is rare but incredibly powerful.
I enjoy Valentine’s Day and the reminder to express my love for my family. And sure, I buy them the sugary treats, the sappy cards and the oversized stuffed animals. But that’s not how I love them. I am called to a deeper purpose in celebrating TRUE love with them all year - love that is filled with grace and truth. And, though camp season is still months away, I look forward to sharing that ONE LOVE with each and every camper and staff member this summer!