Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lauren: Middle School Years - Challenges, Struggles, Temptations

Tell about middle school years. What were some challenges, temptations or struggles you had?

me in middle school

Middle school was, for the most part, a wonderful season in my life. I enjoyed the experience of leaving elementary school behind and learning in a new place, with a new schedule, new teachers and new classmates. I have always loved meeting people so I enjoyed the process of making new friends.

On my first day of 7th grade I did not know anyone in my "section" (that is what my middle school called the group of 20-some kids that I had classes with) except a tiny little blond girl who was practically half my size. I recognized her from the 6th grade, district-wide spelling bee where she was eliminated on the word "restaurant" and I was shut down with the word "dense." Once we were knocked out of the competition we briefly shot the breeze and built up our bruised egos while the other dorks duked it out with spelling power. Then we did not see each other again until that fateful day in middle school.

She remembered me from the spelling bee too - and that is really all it took. We became inseparable, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER. We laughed together often and made big plans to grow up, own houses right next to each other, find handsome husbands, raise our kids together in a warm state like Georgia or South Carolina, and grow old side by side. Nearly 18 years later, God has made most of those plans a reality (all except the location and the growing old stuff). You kiddos know that "tiny little blond girl" as your AUNTIE HOLLY. She is still "half my size" and she is by far the BEST PART OF MY MIDDLE SCHOOL YEARS.

Holly and Me (8th grade)

I had several great friends in middle school but my best friends were Holly, Lisa (who was my BFF since first grade) and Lauren.

I think the biggest problem I see with my middle school self was my judgement of other people. Sure, I had my first kiss in 7th grade (WAY TOO YOUNG AND IF YOU FOLLOW IN THESE FOOTSTEPS I WILL HURT YOU - or ground you - OR SOMETHING) and was rarely "boyfriend-less" until my senior year of high school (again, ridiculously inappropriate - STAY TUNED FOR MY FIRST DATE POST FOR MORE INFO) but the most pervasive problem, and one that I didn't even recognize as a problem at the time, was making fun of and judging others. I laughed at the unfortunate circumstances of others and though most of my classmates would say that I was kind and friendly, it was my thought life and my inside jokes that were dangerously unloving and without-a-doubt unnecessary.

I really was a good kid. I have always had a big heart and a sensitive spirit. But, I have not always had a relationship with Jesus and He makes all the difference. He gives us compassion. Holly and I were some of the "regulars" (along with our friends Jon and Doug) to help with our special needs classmates (Alex and John). We were usually kind and hard working. We were great students. The teachers loved us. We were funny, happy kids. But, we also found humor in poking fun of other people - so much so that we created a book dedicated mainly to that purpose. It was called the "B&B Book of Laughs." It actually breaks my heart to think about it now. For the most part, we did not share our observations with others and certainly not the person who was the butt of our jokes. We were not outwardly critical or cruel. But, our focus in the book and in our humor was judgement rather than LOVE - and whether hidden or exposed our words sowed seeds of hurt and oppression.

That is really the ONE THING that I wish I could take back. Since my middle school years, nearly two decades ago, God has given me a heart that seeks justice and defends the weak. He has placed in me a passion to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. He has blessed me with a compassionate heart. (And if you know anything about Auntie Holly then you know he has done the same for her!) I am thankful. I am thankful for Jesus.

If you learn anything from this middle school post learn this -

  • Friendships really can last (and grow stronger) FOREVER.

  • ALWAYS choose compassion over judgement. (clothe yourself in compassion - Col 3:12, be compassionate and humble - 1 Peter 3:8, do not judge - Matt 7:1, Luke 6:37)

1 comment:

  1. Let me just say, you guys looked H-O-T! Haha. No seriously, awesome words for your kids, again! You're so wise Lu.