ICYouth: The Toxicity of Comparison {Trever}

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by Trever Carter

I hate to admit it, I truly do. But as much as I hate to admit it, it is safe to say that I am caught in the trap: the cyclic and toxic Comparison Trap that we have been talking about at iMPACT the past few weeks. For quite sometime, this trap has not only been a part of my life, but a controlling and integral force in it. Ever since middle school, I have always futilely compared myself to my peers, my brother, my friends. Why wasn’t I as smart or as funny or as popular or as athletic? And all it resulted in was a world of hurt, a broken heart and a distorted self image that said I wasn’t worth it.

This past Sunday at youth group we focused on a review preview–a look back at the weeks past and a look forward at the weeks ahead. As a new addition to iMPACT this year, I was extremely happy to see how well the review preview turned out. It was a welcome break from the traditional structure of a normal Sunday night, where we instead had extended worship and just a general slow down. The most important thing to me, however, was the open mic time where students got up to share about how the series had affected their lives in the recent weeks.

A friend of mine (whom I have known since we were really little–we just recently reconnected when she began to attend iMPACT) had the first go round at the microphone. In all honesty, she just took me aback. Having known her before she had come into faith, it was a breath of fresh air hearing her talk about how God had come in and changed her life–much like he had changed mine–and taken her insecurities and turned them around and set her free from her comparison trap. Two other freshmen also shared about how they were taught that God made them to be a certain way, and they didn’t have to change that to meet the expectations of those around them.

It got me thinking about my faith, about who I am, about what I am worth. And it came at a really necessary time in my life, where I am so concerned about my future, looking around at who is doing what and always wanting to be “er”… richer, smarter, better, more able to afford school or able to get more scholarships, more inclined to know what I’m supposed to do with my life. Or when I look at other peoples faith, and wish mine was more like that. It’s toxic, really and results in nothing good.

So I thank God for Him making me exactly who I am, and blessing me with the exact traits I was meant to have. I don’t need to compare myself to others; I only have to trust that I am worth everything to God.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: Notes from Haiti {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! 

A team of 30 high school students and leaders traveled to Haiti July 15-22; this week our student bloggers are sharing their experiences with us.  

by Trever Carter

Day 1

After a 2 a.m. start to the morning and some restless hours of anxious, suspended consciousness—you could hardly call it sleep—I awoke with the most excitement and eagerness I have had about anything … ever. My heart has always been drawn to missions, and after we climbed onto a beat up, stick-shift bus, with the cushions falling off and the metal rusting, all while sweating in the 100-degree heat with humidity unlike I’ve ever felt before, my mission was now real. Haiti to me had seemed like something you would only see in a movie, and I couldn’t even necessarily believe it was real. It’s just not something you can comprehend—and if you have never been to a third-world country, you would have a hard time believing it if I explained it to you. It’s almost like you have taken a time machine and traveled hundreds of years into the past. We were driving for quite some time, stopping so our Haitian guides could do something to the bus to keep it running … until they couldn’t anymore. Eventually, we were found on the side of the mountain for fifteen minutes, then an hour, then eventually 3 and a half or four (I truly don’t even know how long exactly). The only thing that kept our bus from rolling down the mountain was a rock that one of the Haitians placed under the wheel. And it began to get dark. And the clouds rolled in and it started to lightning and eventually rain. Haitians were coming out of the forest to see what was going on. It was pitch black. Our leaders were waving flashlights behind us so cars wouldn’t hit us if they whipped around the curve. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park, really. And I was scared. Scared because I was uncertain, never had been outside the country, it was the first day of our trip and it was not starting well. But some members of our team decided to bust out their guitars, and we just started to worship. And I began to notice Haitians listening to us sing praises to our God. Then, as we were singing God You Reign, it hit me that He truly does. His plan is greater than mine, and He is using everything in my life now to pave the way for my future. So after 23 hours of travel and hanging mosquito nets to avoid malaria and chickamonga, we fell asleep, quite easily for the circumstances I might add, ready to attack our first full Haitian day.

Day 2

Each night during the week we would go to a park in the center of Pignon, which to my knowledge was not opened often at all in fear of the people ruining one of the jewels of Pignon. It was beautiful. A basketball court with a volleyball net in the middle, concrete bleachers on either side, two bridges on opposite ends, grass and trees … but the most beautiful part was the people there. We played soccer and basketball, hand games, and just laughed with these kids all afternoon. And the amazing part was we couldn’t talk to them. Despite not knowing creole, I felt like I could communicate with them on another level because love is transcendent of those things. In two minutes, someone would be your best friend. And this is where I met my two best friends for the week (beside the kids on the compound, we all had the biggest and most special bonds with them). Abidal and Bebatu, ages 9 and 13. Every day they would come back to the park to see me, and Bebatu even began to attend church with me. I continually pray for them because I left my heart with them.

TreverinHaitiDay 3

My favorite part about this day was certainly the VBS. There were just so many moving components of it. The first day, the worship team attempted to sing songs in English, but by day two they were translated into Creole. Imagine the happiness of more than 150 Haitian kids singing Your Everlasting Love in their native language, dancing and loving the three right to left hops. I also saw a kid who I was told was the witch doctor’s son but has come to VBS for a few years now. When he was in crafts with me, he was reading all the Bible verses without even looking at the paper. He was singing. It was so moving for me to see a child whose parents are of totally different faith living out what he thought was the right way to live his life. We also fed them each a plate full of beans and rice, for some of them their only meal for the day, or a few days. Small children were putting down entire plates of beans and rice, and it was just really intense and powerful for me to see. In America, we glorify eating food. We post pictures of it, eat more than we have to or probably should, anticipate our next meal or pair it with our emotions. Kids here literally eat to survive, no more than that. I can never get the image of these kids eating out of my head. For the rest of the week at the compound when we would eat meals, I learned to eat slow, be thankful for it and eat just enough so that I would be alright and the people behind me could eat as well.

Day 4

TreverinHaiti2After VBS, we partnered with the team of Haitian youth that had been helping us all week at VBS. We grew so close to them too, it was awesome to see youth of the same faith live it out in a totally different circumstance. We were preparing for a youth rally (a Haitian impact if you will) that we were doing the next day. We started by worshipping under the big tree on the compound, and it was the first time I got emotional and cried over the trip. We sang Shout to the Lord and Here I am to Worship, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. We were singing the same songs, to the same God, but in a completely different language. Erik would say “Just the Haitians now!” and they would sing loud, proud, unashamedly to our God in Creole, and then we would take over, then sing together. God is so much bigger than me, than Gurnee, than the Midwest. He has world-sized view for all of us, and it hit me so hard that God’s plans are so big and for His Glory.

Day 5

The Youth Rally went off without a hitch. My favorite part was the ice breaker games that we played before more powerful worship and an awesome message. We played a circle game to learn a everyone’s names, and then improvised and played one of their games … hot potato, also known as tock tock tock boom. I’ve never seen more laughter and cheering and yelling and just sheer happiness, another testament of the transcendent power of love.

Day 6

treverinhaiti3There are two favorite stories from today. The first is that I got to lead a team to a couple micro-loan families and interview them to see if the micro-loans they are receiving are benefitting their families and moving them toward self-sustainability. One of the women we met was named Isman. After talking for a while, we found out that she sells rice and charcoal, and only can still feed her family once a day. After that, while talking to her, we found out she sells a lot more than just rice and charcoal, and had a very good, multi-faceted business. And the micro-loan was benefitting her. She not only sends her 7 kids to school, but pays for 10 other kids to go to school and also pays for immediate need medication for sick kids in their village. She saw that her family’s needs were being met and didn’t need anymore, so she naturally wanted to give back and help others. She thought it was something she needed to. That was incredible—she was incredible. The second story was when I got to share my testimony in front of a bunch of Haitians and my team as well. It was awesome for me just to be able to rearticulate my faith in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know. After, someone I had gotten close with throughout the week (his name was Waldy) came up to me and told me he was praying for me and my family. Someone in Haiti who has literally nothing was praying for me. Tell me that’s not incredible.

Day 7

Day seven was the most rough for me. The whole week, as well as the whole next year hit me at once. Just with youth group changing a little over the next year, I think we all got a little emotional. I won’t really elaborate on this, but just know that God left me charged to come home and make where I am my mission field. I realize that I can’t be in Haiti all the time like I would like to be. But God charged me up so that I can come home and make this place my mission field, because in reality the people here need me just as much.

God moved in my heart and in my life throughout the trip. He encouraged me, empowered me, charged me up. I can’t wait to go back, but I am also happy to be here. I know for sure that I am supposed to be going to other places that need my help to help them.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a junior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: Running toward Haiti {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

Please note: for those of you who are unaware, a team of 30 of us—high school students and leaders—are traveling to Haiti July 15-22… please be praying for us! 

So tonight, after mowing the lawn, I decided to go for a run. I was pent up on energy and just needed to do something. “Oh, it’s just a run,” some may think. But mind you, I am an asthmatic — a nebulizer using, air sucking, inhale- taking asthmatic. Running and I don’t get along the best.

But that’s beside the point.

I decided to take a run and ended up thinking about this blog post and spending some alone time with God. I wish I could’ve written while I ran … a stream of consciousness blog would have either been really beneficial and hilarious or super annoying. Well, it’s me, God—oh, squirrel—anyway, God …

My run went a little something like this: I drove to MacDonald’s Woods, parked my car, lathered on my bug spray and went off. I’ve run there before, but it’s not like I do it all the time. After running a bit, I reached a fork in the road, and I went right — my first mistake of the evening.

Instead of cutting straight to the inner, shorter loop that went around the lake and back to my starting point, I cut to the outside loop that went to every entrance to the forest preserve, which tacked on what felt like an extra two miles to the three I was planning on. Every time the path curved right instead of left, further lengthening the loop and distancing myself from closing it off, I got frustrated. Because I was tired, weary, sore, gasping for air. The path steered away from what I had planned out, the hills went up and down, and sometimes I just wanted to stop and walk. But I didn’t—I kept going, and the sun was setting above the lake, and I saw deer and rabbits and squirrels and breathed fresh summer air. As I finally made it back to the wood chip path that would lead me up to my car, a rabbit was there, not running away from me, but just keeping a few paces in front of me leading me up the path. And at the end of it, there were three more deer literally playing grab tail. I stopped and watched and sighed a deep breath of relief and finished jogging to my car.

And, strangely, it paralleled my feelings about Haiti. I was thinking about what God had to do with me, an ant in His eyes, in a country like Haiti. Me, Trever Carter, an upper-middle class white kid that lives a privileged life comparatively. My struggles are not the same as the Haitians, so what did I have to relate to them with? As the trip nears, my path keeps taking a bunch of rights. The medicine I need is more than I had budgeted for. Travel anxiety is getting to me. The logistics and magnitude of our projects seems much bigger than my scope. My paths aren’t necessarily going the way I thought. Though I’m eager and excited, pent up on energy (I still am, don’t misunderstand me here) much as I was for this run, I’m still getting anxious, skeptical, wondering, tired.

I can’t possibly make a difference in Haiti.

But I’m confident that I will. And if I can’t make a difference in Haiti, Haiti will surely make a difference in me. There are rabbits in this journey, urging me on and on, and deer, and beauty, and all the things that are making this trip so far wonderful—and we haven’t even left yet. There is surely to be a lot of things that will make the shots, the money, the pills, the anxiety all worth it. There has to be. Even though I wanted to walk, I’m just going to keep running with endurance.  My heart is soft, my ears open, my eyes clear.  Do with me what you please, God.

I was supposed to tell you all about our training camp this past weekend. Sure, I could’ve told you how they took our bags and didn’t give them back, how they made us walk from the middle of down town Lake Geneva to camp, how they woke us up with rooster crows at 5:00 a.m. … But instead, God had me go for a run. And this was a much better story.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a junior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: An Audience of One {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

I get easily discouraged.  Really, really easily discouraged. Part of the reason that is true, I think, is because I’m a chronic people-pleaser: when someone says jump, I ask how high. It’s a blessing and a curse, really.  Because of it, I pour my heart and my all into everything I do—if I’m doing something halfheartedly, it’s taking away from where I could be investing my time elsewhere, and, therefore, I should not be doing it. The thing is, when I’m giving my everything to everyone, I get spread a little thin. And when I’m spread a little thin, I get a little tired. And when I get a little tired, I start to falter. And when I falter, I get discouraged. And therein lies a vicious cycle of wanting to please everyone and ending up disappointing myself and others.

For example, I play Varsity lacrosse at Grayslake North High School, which I love and have loved ever since I started playing freshman year. Sure, it’s time consuming, sure it’s tiring, but it’s been a great way for me to make friends and build relationships with people. This year is my first year playing varsity, and it’s a whole different game. I don’t get much playing time, it’s a new group of people, and we’ve had a rough start. But I’ve been putting my all into it since November, and I’m getting a little discouraged that something I’ve invested so much time in isn’t paying off. Plus, it’s detracting from other areas of my life.

John16-32And in that, I think God has something to say. I think that He believes that if I’m putting my all into a sport for Him, he’s crazy about that. He’s crazy about me being a light for Him on and off the field, no matter the worldly outcomes of the practices or games.

That is the mindset I have to keep- an audience of One.

And it’s the same for all areas of my life. I have to give Him my all in my friendships, my relationships, my schoolwork, my anything. If I do, then He will be pleased.

So I take my trials and all. I embrace the struggles and the hard times and the disappointment, because I know if I’m living for Him, He’s content, and He will use it all to form me into me.

My favorite verse, and the most life impactful, is John 16:33.

“In this world you will have tribulations, but take heart, for I have overcome the world!”

How encouraging! In everything that life throws at you, in the struggles and discouragement, God promises to be with you through it.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a junior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: Are You Serving God Your Warmed-Up Leftovers? {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

There are some people in this world that I have a great, great amount of respect for. Respect, by definition, is a feeling of deep admiration for someone elicited by their qualities. But I think it’s a bit more than that in practice. It’s honoring someone, valuing their opinions and being willing to put forth your best for them, whether they ask it or not. As I got to thinking about the people I respected, I came up with this little list:

-My grandfather who was a policeman for thirty-nine years and possesses a stern, yet loving exterior.  To this day, when any of my cousins, my brothers, or I need something, we usually go to grandpa first. We just have a sense of fear for him that makes us a little bit nervous, even though we know his answer will always be yes. He is an honest, generous, loving man, and I could never imagine doing something for him only half way.

-My mother is the most selfless person I have ever met in my life.  She herself battles illness, pain, stress and anxiety, yet is always the first one to wake up in the mornings to make sure our lunches are made in case we forgot, to make sure our cars are scraped off after it snows and to make sure were up on time to start the day.  If we need money, she gives it. If we need her time, she gives it. If we need anything, she gives it. Again, I couldn’t fathom doing something for her only half-hearted or minimally because of how I love and respect her.

-My youth pastor and some of the leaders at church, who have been there for me spiritually since day one. They have helped me grow into a man of God who lives his life according to the title. They’re there to listen to me vent, to give me advice and to help me put to practice what I preach. Never would I agree to do something for them and just not do it without notice.

And I’ve got the same view towards my God. My God: creator of the ground I walk on, giver of the breath I breathe, manager of the life I live. He is so big, so great, so full of awe and He has my utmost respect. Like the above people in my life, I couldn’t possibly commit to him half-way; I couldn’t do a job half-hearted; I couldn’t agree to do something for Him and let it go unnoticed. So why do I? Why do I tend to live my life lukewarm? Revelations 3:15-16 says this:

                  “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

How heartbroken would I be if I were rejected in such a way by my mother or grandfather or leaders, let alone by the God who created me? It’s terrifying to think that God would rather me not know Him than to claim I do and live only lukewarm for Him. That’s enough to rekindle a passion; it’s time to cast away my indifference.

As people, all we want is to be loved. There is only one person who can genuinely fill this hole in our hearts: God. He possesses a crazy amount of love for us. And if we claim to reciprocate love and respect for Him, why are we so willing to serve a Holy God left-overs?

Think of the people you respect in your life. If my mother or grandmother or leaders were sick, I wouldn’t bring them a meal that is somewhat warm and half eaten, and I sure wouldn’t serve my God the same.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a junior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.