My dog had been sick for a while. Before camp I knew it was bad, and I realized that after camp I may be coming back to some difficult times. That being said, camp was amazing, and God was preparing me so that the joy I felt during the happy times at camp would spill over to the not-so-happy times awaiting me at home. While sitting in adoration I began to read a book about joy, which I thought was fitting since “radiant joy” is the theme of Life Teen this year. The main point of the book was that happiness fades when trials arise, but joy endures all trials. And by trial I am referring to anything that challenges joy. This joy is happiness at camp and it is effortless. However true joy exists at all times, and even though camp may feel like home, like a taste of heaven, it is up to us as Christians to bring heaven down the mountain and share that joy with others who do not know it.
Right at the end of Life Night on Sunday I got a call from my mom saying that we had to put my dog down the next morning. Everything inside me flipped upside down. I was not expecting this so soon. My dog had been a faithful companion and friend to me since I was 6 years old! Now I had to say goodbye to this creature after 14 years together of pure joy. I ended up not going to see Spider Man in the theatres and went to spend some last hours with my best furry friend. I couldn’t help but think: he has no idea. He does not even know he is sick, and he just keeps being a peaceful, happy little animal. Maybe I had something to learn from him. My own ideal would be to remain just as joyful, as hopeful, during all the changes in my life; from the extremely happy, to the extremely challenging, suffering times. Now inadvertently, it was as if my dog’s situation challenged me to maintain the radiant joy from camp. And somewhere in his big, amber eyes, I was lost in the will of God, the Creator who said “Trust my plan in all things I give, and all things I take away.” This echoed throughout the week as my family celebrated the anniversary of my grandpa’s death and heavenly birthday. Together as a family, we were able to look at pictures together of my grandpa and our dog and share in all the memories we had with them. Instead of focusing on the losses of this week, I was challenged to revisit the joy of the life we shared together, and in that moment, the joy from the mountain and my life at home were the same.