A few weeks ago, during Adventure week at camp, I had the privilege of having a camper in my cabin that taught me a lot. Her name is Becky. She has Asperger's Syndrome, and thus we had a lot of ups and downs throughout the week.
Sometimes Becky was super excited. Thrilled. With whatever we were doing. Other times she was at the extreme opposite end of excited. Many times she would be close to tears because we were doing something that she didn't want to do, such as cleaning our cabin or our cleaning assignment for the day. When this happened, Emily or I would take her aside and talk to her, using various techniques- distraction, making a game out of the cleaning, reasoning with her, and things like that. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't.
The first night that Emily and I took our girls to the bathhouse to take their showers, it was a battle. Becky didn't want to take a shower because she was afraid that the water would hurt. We reasoned, we coaxed, we did everything we could think of. Finally, Emily decided to sing with her. They sang songs that we had been singing at worship, and Becky was fine. She finished her shower with no more tears. On Emily's night off, we went to the bathhouse again. All day long, I had been wondering how things were going to go, and when it was time to go for showers I talked to Becky and said, "Becky, we get to go sing in the showers now! We're going to have a shower party!" I expected resistance, but was shocked. She got in the shower, and was done in record time with absolutely no complaints. When Emily got back from her day off, Becky excitedly told her, "Emily, I took a shower. And I did it all by myself!" She exuded pride as she said this. And I was proud of her too.
We did this with many things. One day while picking up trash around campus for our morning cleaning assignment, Becky was crying and complaining about picking up trash. I held her hand, and we walked together. I made a game out of it. Suddenly, Becky wasn't crying. On occasion she would give a half-hearted complaint, but that was it.
Sometimes, unfortunately, what worked best was just making her look me in the eyes and telling her that we were done with crying. Then I would hug her, and we would move on.
All week long I was given many opportunities to practice patience and creativity. But it was so rewarding. Toward the end of the week, Becky had begun to change. We still had some rough spots, but for the most part things were smooth. She got to the point where she would come up to Emily or me and put her arms around us, or hug us, or lay her head on our shoulders.
One of Becky's biggest problems was lagging behind or wandering. Countless times, I would find myself saying, "Come on Becky! Let's go." Often I would have to take her by the hand, or walk by her side to get her to keep up with the group. Each time I said, "Come on Becky," a song would come to mind. It was stuck in my head all week long. And God used it to remind me, that so often I am just like Becky. God has to keep coaxing me along, often taking me by the hand, so to speak. And I pray that like Becky, I will respond to God's love and patience with love in return.
Becky loves Jesus and really wants to make him proud,
She tears up in church and she sings her harmonies loud...
So come on Becky, let's go for a ride
If I'm driving too fast then I apologize...