Middle Schoolers Looking for Truth

Our collective group of youth, the faithful few that gather each Tuesday evening, they amaze me. As I shut off the building lights, walked down the cement walkway, stuffed our trunk to its brim, I fought a burning sensation behind the skin of my eyes. Looking wonder and awe in the face, I could not keep my heart from querying God, "Why me? Why do I get to listen to these girls? Hear their cries and listen to their praise? Why do I get to shine light into their confusion, their curiosity, to gleam Your beautiful Truths into their hearts? Why do I get to speak bold words of love? To hug them while they cry, to speak words of their value straight to their hungry souls? Why me?" The honor weighs heavy tonight, substantially heavier than the usual evening. I sit in our unofficial Tuesday-Night-Debrief spot and I revere God, worship Him, thank Him.

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We kicked off our series of Living Boldly: Living On Purpose. My less-than-a-ton group gathered on the steps of the stage, huddled together to hash through what it might mean to live boldly in our schools, at home. Our conversation flowed through: peers who bash Christianity, friends who only care to gossip, students who bully the weaklings, people who choose rejection but really don't want to. How do we live boldly? How do we intentionally invite others into our lives? How do we avoid cowardice, masking it with the term "bold," and truly choose to be loving and intentional, relational without compromise? To be loving. Love is patient and kind. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. Love does not boast, nor does it envy, it is not prideful. Love hopes, endures, believes. Love never fails.

One particular girl {we'll call her Gem} shared her heart, stinging with a fresh wound from and for a friend. A friend at school was communicating her annoyance of another friend. Gem had the choice to smash her friend behind her back, go along with this talk, or to stand up on her behalf. Gem was aching, because just a few hours ago, she stood up for righteousness. She stood up for "the least of these." She endured heart ache at the risk of losing a friend. A 13 year old girl took a stand against someone's slander. Do I do even that? Do I stand to others defense, do I pursue righteousness in the face of adversity? Some times, maybe most times, but not all times.

At one point, I had a young girl spouting off rage and anger, the word hate flew out of her mouth a few too many times. She was angry at a boy who was making jokes about "Christianity," constantly making fun of it & "it's people."

My eyes softened and my heart was gentle, I love this girl. "Yes, that is hard and difficult. That hurts. But we are called to a different standard than to hate. We are not to feed other people's hate and anger with our retaliation of hate and anger. We are called to love and to pray. We are called to be patient and kind. We are told that when we suffer, when we take insults for carrying the name of Christ, we are to count it as joy! We are to see the blessing, to have confidence that our rewards are stored in heaven. We are not called to condemn, to hate. We are called to love with the love of Jesus." What was really cool, was that I said those words with weight, I have lived a couple, a few, {not a ton}, more years than them. I was able to share my own struggle of loving a foe or two, through and only through, the grace of Jesus.

I half expected her to roll her eyes. Instead, for possibly the first time, she was silent and her eyes bore into mine. Her beautiful eyes screamed loudly, howled the unfairness of it all. "I know. It is hard and it is difficult, following Jesus. It hurts to love but then, somehow and always, the blessing and joy rushes and it's all worth it. You can do this, Christ will do this." Love precedes a miracle.

The girls rallied, encouraged one another, wide eyed and ready for righteousness. Assuring one another that they are a team, that they are on mission together. Before I knew it, they were exchanging requests for prayer - not for themselves, but for loved ones. Lastly, the girl {I spoke of above} piped up: "I would like to pray for [boy], that I would be able to purely love him and be nice. That he would find Jesus and real joy, without being a bully." And my heart melted straight out of me. I bled clear tears, salty, as they each prayed for their friend, family, foe. They plead for whole ness, for healing, comfort, salvation and peace, they plead for Jesus' will. The sought His face and placed their cares in His hands. And it was glorious.

Why me? Why do I get the benefit of watching these girls grow and flourish, spontaneously, as if they were in a Petri dish! It astonishes me, and I'll take it. I'll receive this blessing, open-handedly.

#273 Middle School girls, whose hearts break for others, who ache for righteousness, even when painful and difficult.

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