Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Real thoughts

Tonight I sat near the back of the youth room. We had a 5th grade preview night for our up and coming 6th graders-to-be. Here in this part of the world Student Ministries starts in 6th grade. Sixth grade!!! I can clearly remember myself in 6th grade - my waist long hair, lack of style {some things never change...}, insecurities, intense interest in wanting to be loved by a boy, not understanding school and not knowing what to do about it, and not having many friends. My home foundation was STRONG and for that I'm forever grateful. I know that is one of the things the Lord used in my life to save and protect me from many, many, possible stupidities. I went to a Christian school in WV where I was teased about how I dressed, how I spoke {had an Ohio accent?}, the kind of car my parents the way we were in Bible College for my dad, and drove whatever the Lord provided. At that moment it was an army green VW rabbit. {ugh}But we sure were grateful for it!

 I just remember absorbing so much. I was understanding that "Christian" in title didn't mean Christian in life - and, I'm not hear to bash on Christian education... that would be another post entirely - and not bashing, just....thoughts. But I guess it was an awakening to me - in that complex and formative year in my life. After an entire year I had tried anything and everything to find my niche. Skater girl with baggy pants and green, yes, green lipstick. Preppy, cheerleader, sporty girl - only, we couldn't afford name brand sports gear or clothes, so, that didn't work either. Book lover - wha???? Babysitters club. That didn't last long as I always seemed to doze off. Anyway, I just couldn't figure out WHO I was. I felt myself grasping at any kind of acceptance. My heart is forever soft for 6th grade girls now.

Fast forward back to tonight. I'm sitting in the back row and out of the corner of my eye I see it... "she" is watching me. This precious, beautiful 5th grade girl eyes wide with excitement to be in YOUTH GROUP. She was soaking everything in and I could just sense her every thought. So as not to embarrass her I do a quick grin and look back to our speaker for the evening. But I feel her eyes watching the rest of the night. Watching how I sat {and mimicking that}, watching how I opened my bible and highlighted and took notes. When I would laugh or clap at an appropriate moment - she would watch. And it struck me again at just how mighty this calling in my life is. These children are watching me. They are looking for validation, fulfillment, acceptance and love... they are looking for Jesus. He is the only one who can fill those voids, truly. I wanted to throw my arms around her and tell her a million things...

That Jesus loves her...
That no boy is worth a broken heart so young. 
That friends will come and go and it hurts...but, that's how we grow. She will survive.
That people are not kind. They say mean words and act weird just when you think you have them figured out...but that's ok {again} Because she is loved by an almighty God! 
That being a teenager doesn't last forever...but the memory of those days DO, and to choose how she makes those memories so so wisely. 

Ah, I love these teenagers. I genuinely, deep down, heart-on-my-sleeve love them. I ache for the ones choosing the easy path instead of standing up for the God who died for them. I cry for the ones hurting and alone. My chest puffs out like a proud Momma when I see the light bulb go off...and they act on what they've learned. In this very raw and fresh moment in my mind I'm so challenged - do these kids see Jesus in me? Am I pointing towards Him in how I live? If not... what's the point?! If you have a few minutes - let this song/video speak to you. It is such a challenge to me each time I hear it. Praise God for using imperfect but willing people. And, pray for me. Pray that those little eyes watching my life will see Christ.


Melody Joy King said...

This is beautiful Mandi!

Emily Howrylak said...

I remember that little 6th grader...... and I ended up loving her and looking up to her as one of the most dearest friends I could have ever asked for. And most of all I love u for the passion you have for your Christian walk with God. I am so proud to have such a wonderful friend who has dedicated her life to the youth of this day and age. What lucky teens you have that are able to experience such amazing youth leaders. I love U