When we were kids, we used to enjoy camping. And whenever we were ready to leave our campsite, we were always told, “Remember to leave the campsite better than when you found it.”
This has become my metaphor for life – the picture of the campsite – my legacy. How do I want to leave my campsite?
I think about this a lot because of the campsite that I was left by my family of origin. I was left a legacy of alcoholism, disconnected and neglectful parents, a family filled with blame shifting, volatile arguments, and confrontation with no conflict resolution skills. Most of all I was left holding the burdens from the generations before me who did not truly enter into repentance, healing, and ownership of the harm that had been done to them, and later, to me.
I was basically left with a trashed campsite. My trash manifested in feelings of unworthiness, self-condemnation, shame, despair, and anxiety, and also left me with addictive behaviors. These all came out of intense pain and loneliness as a child.
When one is left with a trashed campsite, one has choices.
One choice is to continue to live in the trash, add to it, and heap even more trash for the next camper. One can imagine a campsite that has been left by many generations of campers who have not taken the responsibility of picking up their trash. The following generations of campers then have the burden of picking up not only the trash that they generate themselves, but of cleaning up prior generations of trash that was left for them as well. It can be a tremendous burden. It is difficult enough to live life picking up your own trash, imagine compounding that with generations of garbage that was left untouched.
Another choice is to enter into the process of picking up the trash, processing it, and doing something with it. My trash (internal and external), whether I choose to acknowledge it or not, affects others. It will become their legacy too if I don’t do something about it.
Oh, and by the way, it doesn’t work very well to pick up generations of trash by yourself. (Trust me, I have tried it!) The trash recovery or healing process must take place in community for it to be effective. We need to invite people in to our campsite (via groups like Celebrate Recovery) to help us sort out our trash and to be with us in these often painful places of looking at, processing, and getting rid of the trash.
This is what healing and recovery is all about – looking at and getting rid of the trash – the wounds that I have been left, and that I have inadvertently left for others. I will not be able to see the beauty of the campsite without getting rid of the trash, and I certainly don’t want to leave my children and my friends and family with the additional burdens of a trashed campsite.
What kind of campsite have you inherited?
What kind of campsite/legacy do you want to leave?
Are you inviting others into your clean-up process?
How will you know when your process is working?
Join me and others who were left a trashed campsite for weekly clean-up duty on Monday nights at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau. Regular trash collection starts at 7PM. No previous experience required. You’ll leave feeling some relief from your burdens and make the campsite of life more enjoyable in the process.
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.