Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to serve at girls’ camp as a youth camp leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As camp leaders ages 15 to 18-years-old, we started training over six months in advance to be able to perform our jobs to the best of our abilities. I was assigned to lead a group of 15-year-olds, who were very close to my own age. Once I received my assignment, I thought, “Oh my gosh, what if they don’t like me? I am so underqualified to be in charge of girls practically my age.”
The youth camp leaders arrived at camp a day early to go over some last-minute plans followed by a fireside to help us have the right mindset going into the week. One of the speakers that night shared a song called “It’s Not About You,” the 2016 youth theme song. The lyrics of this song revealed my true purpose at camp. I realized I had not come to be the cool leader that everyone likes, not to have a fun week off of work, and not to stay up all night talking with friends. It wasn’t about my wants it all.
“It’s not about you,
it’s for the people who are blessed by what you do,
it’s not about you,
it’s for those who are searching for the truth.
It’s not about you,
it’s for your children in the world they’re coming to,
sure you’ve become much better because of what you’ve been through but,
it’s not about you.”
With tears in my eyes, I reflected on all the anxiety I’d been feeling the past week about camp. I knew right then, it wasn’t about the experience that I was hoping to have there, but it was the experience that I needed to help the girls in my group have.
In life it’s easy to get caught up in the suffocating whirlwind of our own problems. Life is hard! But, when we focus on ourselves too much, we always fall short because all we can see is our problems and frustrations. We don’t see what’s truly going on around us, and the struggles that others are going through. If everyone just cared about themselves, what kind of world would this be?
However, when we look outside of ourselves, we realize just how much we have been blessed. When we look outside of ourselves, we can help those in need. When we look outside of ourselves, our own problems become just a little less painful because we’ve learned that we aren’t the only ones that are struggling.
At girl’s camp, I tried to keep this in mind. That first night, I prayed that I would be able to see the girls the way My Savior Jesus Christ saw them, let me tell you, my eyes were opened. There were times when I could have gone off with my friends, or taken a nap at free time, but I’d remind myself, it’s not about me, it’s about them.
I experienced a love for those 15-year-olds that I haven’t felt before in my life. It’s different being a leader than it is just being a part of a group. I saw that they weren’t just girls I had to hang out with for a week. They are beautiful daughters of God, who each have a story, who are each going through their own unique trials, who are each just trying to find their place in this world. I loved my group, more than I expected to, I loved hearing about their interests and their thoughts and ideas about things. I am astonished by their strength, and I am better because of their sweet spirits.
I can’t help but feel such gratitude to God for this experience--for helping the selfish girl I was before camp see that there is so much more to life beyond myself. I can only imagine the love that Jesus Christ and his Father feel for us. We are truly capable of amazing things; we are infinite and beautiful. And sometimes we don’t see it. Sometimes we just don’t see at all. But when we shift our view from ourselves and let God in, when we realize it isn’t always about ourselves, he can make us better than we ever thought possible, and we will be happier because of it.
Kristen Beames will be a senior at the Mat-Su Middle College School this fall. She enjoys varsity volleyball and track at Palmer High, extreme sports, and reading. She is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and plans on serving a church mission after high school.