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Reflecting on Man Camp: Embracing Emotions and Letting Go

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua‬ ‭1‬:‭9‬, ESV ‭

Attending Man Camp last weekend was another unexpected rollercoaster of emotions, filled with highs and lows. I’m so thankful that Teri’s favorite Bible verse was used during the last session. Always a good reminder.


While it’s easy to talk about the enjoyable aspects that everyone experienced, such as uplifting messages, fellowship, delicious food, and fun activities, I want to share the unexpected emotional challenges I encountered. These moments reminded me of my memories with Teri and the profound sense of loss I still feel. I’m still thankful I went and that I can explore the lessons I learned.


Teri’s Woodbridge ID / Pool Key

Woodbridge IDs - let’s go swimming or kayaking?

Upon settling into the cabin, I decided to take a swim in the pool during dinner, anticipating it would be deserted. Great idea for strong introverts! As I unpacked my swimming gear, Teri’s Woodbridge ID slipped out of my swim bag and onto the floor, catching me off guard. It instantly brought back memories of the time we excitedly obtained our IDs at the Woodbridge association office after moving to Irvine. We shared a love for swimming and even bought a pass to go kayaking on the lake, although we never got the chance to use it. This moment served as a reminder for me to work less and embrace life more fully through physical activities.


Thoughts of Woodbridge also resurrected fond memories of living here in 2010 with my close friends while attending UCI business school. Despite the challenges of missing Teri, Mayo and I are still grateful to still call this place home.


My Last Retreat with Teri

2018 FCBC Walnut Family Retreat - USD

Late Friday night, it dawned on me that my last church retreat was with Teri at the June 2018 FCBC Walnut Family retreat at the University of San Diego. The photos from that weekend brought bittersweet emotions and reminded me of the void I feel without her. I miss her companionship. Although we were somewhat out of place due to our sporadic church attendance caused by the demands of a long-distance relationship, we found solace in exploring the campus together. Similarly, at Man Camp, I found comfort in exploring (and swimming) on my own.


Missing the “Mancathlon” Competition

Man Camp day 1

One of my motivations for attending Man Camp was to participate in the “Mancathalon,” an team obstacle course event. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to sign up, resulting in disappointment and a sense of wasted training. In the past, I would have gone to great lengths to secure a spot, but this time, I let it go and found enjoyment in watching the competition and reconnecting with Andrew Baer, my AV/Lyrics buddy I serve with at Mariner’s North Irvine. As usual, it all worked out in the end. This change in perspective can be attributed to conversations I had with Teri during our time in Maui.


Lessons from Talks with Teri in Maui

Maui Vacation with Family

In January 2023, Teri and I traveled to Maui to support our sister-in-law, Alex, as she ran her first marathon. Initially, I contemplated participating as well, but due to lack of training, I embraced the role of supporter, which was unusual for me. A few days before the race, I considered registering at the last minute, envisioning it as a story of perseverance (a theme from Man Camp). I was only averaging a few runs per month. I ran two miles that morning and my legs felt surprisingly good! This was my chance to prove to my friends and family that I still have what it takes to finish a Marathon, without training. What a story it would make. To me, this is what it means to “Do Hard Things.” David Goggins would be proud. Teri also said it was OK to do the race. It’s GO time!


The next morning when it was time for Alex to pick up her bib, I was ready to sign up. My decision to race was unexpectedly vetoed by both my brother and Teri. They agreed I was not ready and I was a liability. Are you serious?! Arguing with them didn’t seem to help. I was devastated. I felt betrayed by my own wife. I didn’t want to talk to anyone that morning. I needed space.


A few hours later, Teri, reminded me that it was okay not to participate and changed my perspective on the whole incident. I’ll never forget our talk. She said something along these lines:

“Erwin, I know you think that the hard thing is to do the race. Perhaps this time, the hard thing is to NOT do the race. To learn what it’s like to be a supporter, and not be in the spotlight. It’s okay to let this one go. I know you can do the race if you wanted to, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone.”

I remember feeling so much better after our talk. I did the harder thing, and that’s something to celebrate. Teri’s wisdom shed light on my tendency to give in when faced with opposition, a pattern rooted in my childhood. Her words resonated with me and it’s why I think about this story all the time. The importance of letting go and being OK. It’s how to trust in God. Of course it all worked out, race day was really hot and humid! While I was watching, I was so thankful to be a supporter.


Closing thoughts

Sept 2019- Kayaking with Teri

Letting go has always been a challenge for me, as there are often things I want to do but shouldn’t. This struggle continues to be present in my life, particularly during this confusing and uncertain time. I’ll tell most people I am OK, but those that know me well know I have a long way to go. I appreciate your prayers and support as I navigate these emotions and trust God with his plan for my future. Thank you for joining me on this journey and for taking the time to read my thoughts and experiences.


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