Today is a milestone for my 11-year old daughter. She started middle school today. Nervous, excited, anticipation...and I'm sure she felt some stuff, too. (smile) I remember those days a little too well. Don't you? What a tough age this was for me! Was I popular or a dork? Was I dressed cool enough but without looking like I tried too hard? Did I do my hair right, was I walking right, was I thin enough, did I fit in? Ohhh.....my sweet girl is at a tough age.
I've lived through it with my two oldest children, but I will be honest - it wasn't easy. I remember when my daughter started middle school she had a ton of friends in youth group. They would worship together at youth group every week, eat lunch together and go to church together on Sundays. It was actually cool to be a Christian. Within about 4 months of middle school beginning, I noticed that more and more kids were pulling away from youth group. The pressure was on. My daughter had to make some tough choices. She made some mistakes, but I'm so happy she never turned her back on the Lord. Oh, was that hard, though.
It's hard to be strong at an age where you are desperately trying to define yourself. I remember I wanted to be my "own person" but I dressed like everyone else. I wanted to be "individualistic" but my decisions were made by the crowd, usually much to my own dismay. I wanted to express myself, but instead I expressed what the popular kids wanted me to. I wanted to defend the people who were made fun of, but I was made fun of when I did, so I kept quiet. I hated who I was. I wanted to be who I wanted to be - but I didn't have the confidence to be myself.
I'm praying my daughter will not go the route I did. I pray she will see the truth - that people actually respect a person who stands for something greater than us. Others want to be more like that too, but they are afraid. Afraid of what? Not sure. But I believe rejection, accountability and stereotypes are up at the top of the list.
When people know we are a Christian, they expect us to be different. When we act just like everyone else, we send a very mixed message. Our faith should be evident in our lives - but not imposed on others. There's something extremely bold about a middle-school kid who stands for Christ! I think they are some of our biggest heroes - everyday heroes, walking what they talk. This takes guts in a world that often thinks Jesus Christ is a cuss-word.
Today, if you think about it, would you say a prayer for those kids who are starting school and who are trying to stand firm for their faith in Christ? Would you lift them up - ask God to encourage them and to give them strength? Our prayers are so important! I pray my kids will be gutsy for God in their schools - and that they will shine His light - so the world will know their faith is real, and more importantly, so they will see Jesus in them.
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17