Working as a middle school counselor takes you back to a time of raging hormones, drama filled hallways, self-loathing, insecurity, and all things age 13. Not a fun time. I often tell my students "yeah, middle school is hard, but I promise you will get through it." To be honest with you, I don't even really remember middle school. I think I blocked it out. I remember snapshots of moments, but nothing concrete. Still, I find myself learning lessons from middle school.
Lesson #1: You are fearfully and wonderfully made
My girls at school are so beautiful, I mean stunning. Why can't they see it? Ah, I remember those days...oh wait I still feel that way. I find myself telling them daily, you are beautiful, you are loved, you is smart, you is kind...oh wait that's The Help. But seriously, you would think being 12 years removed from middle school I would be more secure and less self-conscious. Sure, I'm more comfortable with who I am, but I still have my moments. They creep in and say "you're not skinny enough, your freckles are not cute, you need a better wardrobe" and my 13 year old self rears its ugly head. Seriously girls, we are beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who placed every hair on our head. How amazing is that??
Lesson #2: Girls are mean
Okay, I already knew that, but seriously! The number one issue I deal with as a counselor is girl drama. Girls are mean. I hate to say it, but this catiness does not go away in adulthood. I have learned that the only person you can control is yourself. If you act in a Christ-like manner and treat your fellow sisters as precious and worthy then you can be content. No, it doesn't take the pain away from being left out, stabbed in the back, ditched for someone more glamorous, whatever you go through, but it does show everyone that you are a warrior, a soldier.
Lesson #3: Don't sweat the small stuff
My middle schoolers get so bent out of shape about the smallest, most insignificant things. They wear blinders. Middle school gives you tunnel vision. Seriously, they can't see 3 years ahead of that horrible 7th grade year. I promise you life is beautiful and it does get better. I used to be the worst perfectionist and a huge worry wart. I still have those tendencies, but my motto these days is "it is what is is". If I can't control it, I try not to sweat it. That's a lesson I see every day in middle school and it takes growing pains to learn it.
Lesson #4: You are stronger than you know
Middle school can make you feel defeated, insignificant, unnoticed, lost, but you are always stronger than you think. 12 years removed from middle school and life can make you feel that way. I often feel weak or unqualified, but that's Satan talking. The most tragic thing might happen or you might just be in a rut. Always remember, you are stronger than you think, especially with Christ on your side. Nothing is too big for our God. Through Him you are a conqueror.
Lesson #5: God has a purpose for you, a seed has been planted
Oh, the cloudy vision of middle schoolers. All they see if what's right in front of them. They don't see that they are made for a purpose. They don't understand that what they do now has implications for what they will do in the future. Oh, wait that's my life too. Sometimes, I feel so unsure of where I am in life. I feel complacent or unfulfilled or like what I'm doing is not good enough for God. The Lord is always working even if we can't see it. He is on our side. Seeds are planted daily that we reap the harvest from at the most unexpected moments. I want open my eyes and heart to be open to the purposes God has for me.
So yes, I am 12 years out of middle school, but the lessons I see daily are not just for tweens. They are for me and I am blessed to learn from them every single day.