trent bursts into the room and asks me to pray and so i bow on the bed, in this retreat of a home called Young Life. a place where staff spoil unchristian kids in the name of the gospel. a place where God emerges in the form of pool parties and walk-on skits and water-skiing and five-star accommodation and zip lines. a place where you can almost HEAR the mountains and lakes clapping their praise.
and trent is head leader here, and a boy named emerson is a camper. a boy who hasn’t eaten in two days. he wants to get back at his dad for sending him here. he wants to hurt his parents who are going through a divorce, so he’s smoking pot in the guts of the rocks and hiding behind shower curtains when trent comes looking for him. and he screams and swears at trent when he finds him.
soon he’s running across the cliffs and trent is following him and talking into his walkie-talkie and it feels like a man-hunt. and so trent slows down. he’s lost sight of emerson, and he prays, and he sights a sliver of black jacket from behind a tree. so he stops, and he sits,and he prays, and he waits. and emerson sees this, and eventually they talk.
trent apologizes. for it seeming like a man-hunt. for all of this, but they care about him, he says. then God tells trenton to bring emerson some pizza (trent not knowing emerson hasn’t eaten in two days) so he does, and they talk some more.
this goes on for the next two days, this chasing and hiding and not wanting to be at camp and trent praying and seeking emerson out. and then someone reports three i-phones missing, and cash. and emerson is the only suspect.
he says he didn’t steal them, and then trent sees him leave the cabin and scale the mountains and trent and the other head leader follow him. pray as they follow him and God leads them to a pile of rocks and wood and grass and they dig beneath it and find a bag with three phones and the cash.
and emerson is sent home.
but before he is, we make him sandwiches and we tell him we love him and we wish he could stay. and trent fairly cries for it all, for the way this boy refused to let them in.
late that night trent bursts into the room again, and he’s holding a plate of nachos, and he says, “emily, come have some nachos with me, and let me tell you how much i love you.”
so i do. we sit in the moonlight, in the kitchen of the lodge, the campers partying below, and we eat nachos and he tells me how much he loves me. for praying for him this week. for loving emerson alongside him. for letting him sleep in after he’d been out late searching for the boy.
and i tell him i love him too. for the way he loves on others. for the way he loves on God.
and this moment, it fills us up more than any nachos ever could.
Emily Wierenga is the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder (Ampelon, September 2012). She is wife to Trenton (a math and science teacher), mother to Aiden Grey and Kasher Jude, foster mom to Joey and Jin, a freelance journalist, and a commissioned artist. Emily also volunteers as a counselor for families with eating disordered loved ones, and in quiet moments, she runs, plays guitar, kisses her babies, and travels. For more info, please visit http://www.emilywierenga.com.