Artwork: Tropical Holiday Hawaii Beach by Robin Wethe Altman
Time to refresh
Time to renew
Time to reflect
Time to repent
What better place to refresh than a beach?
Growing up in NJ, where the shore was an hour away, it could take up to three hours to get there because of traffic. And, of course, once you arrived, you needed to pay for parking and pay to go on the beach. No free beach in NJ. That is if you can find a public beach. Many beaches are private and require a “badge.” In NC, it is entirely different. Free public beach access that is clearly visible. Plenty of free parking nearby. What a joy to be able to enjoy an hour or so at the beach without the hassle!
Renewing our minds every once in a while, is good medicine for our souls. How do you renew? I renew by stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new.
Growing up in a non-denominational evangelical home environment, the Church was the center point. All seemed to revolve around Church. Church was on Sunday. That is what we did—Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and Church service at 10:45 a.m. Then, sometimes, fellowship hour after Church. Then home for Sunday dinner. Maybe a ride in the car. Then, rest time. Then a lite supper and then back to Church for evening service.
Wednesday evening was Prayer Meeting, and I remember my dad faithfully going. Then Thursday evening was choir rehearsal which my father participated in as well. Thursday was also Pioneer Girls, similar to Girl Scouts, which I participated in for many years. Youth group at Church plus a regional youth group, Youth for Christ, were activities held at various times throughout the years that I regularly attended. I do remember one summer attending a bible study that was at 7:00 a.m. I woke up, grabbed some juice, and rode my bike up to Church. It really wasn’t that far – about 1 mile.
When I was a bit older, the regional group expanded my horizons to meet other kids in nearby towns. I appreciated learning more about different churches; yet, I felt a tug to be more involved in my neighborhood. My parents discouraged me from community activities. And strongly encouraged Church-sponsored events and outgoings with “church kids.” I also vaguely remember one summer going away to camp at a Christian Camp named Camp Cherith. That is where I learned to do archery, shoot a rifle (BB’s), and horseback ride. Reflecting on my childhood, I felt that I was in a bubble; I could only do activities that were Church related. I thought that I missed out on friendships with those who were unlike me.
My first experience with discrimination was when my parents did not support my friendship with a little girl up the block named Charlotte. She was Jewish. I don’t know why my parents were afraid of people who were unlike them. I was five. It had a lasting impact on me and my life. It was then when my first questions started about religion, faith, and Christian love. I still wonder if Charlotte knew why I couldn’t be her friend.
There were lots of rules growing up. No playing on Sunday. No bike riding on Sunday. No going to school dances. No going to movies. No playing cards. I felt deprived. I felt like a freak. I’m sure being bullied by a girl named Debby in junior high school didn’t help either. I was so scared, and I don’t really know why. Perhaps, I’ll never know.
What exactly is repenting? And what do we need to repent from? First, repenting requires acknowledging a wrongdoing or a regret. Who in this world has not done something they have regretted? Not me – for sure! Then, repenting requires coming to peace with the regret. For me, repenting is freeing. Once you have come to terms with a situation, and only then, can you then move forward. At the University of Ozarks, their mission is “to live life fully,” and you can only do that after you have reflected, repented, refreshed and renewed. Not necessarily in that order.
Enjoy the rest of the summer! Life is a life-long learning experience.