Middle school. Ugh! The memories are almost as bad as high school. Those awkward years.
They were awful for me. How about you? Were you lucky enough not to cringe when you think of the past? For many, I would wonder if we don't have some insecurities that peaked their heads at that time.
I'm so grateful that I didn't have to grow up in today's selfie and social media ridden world. I'm grateful my kids are young enough to not be faced with too many questions about the internet and phones and social media. However, I'll admit that Covid definitely affected our access to the internet by the school issued Chromebook. Even with limits, it challenged me.
The addiction of the screen is no joke. When your kid hides the screen like they were just caught doing something wrong is alarming. Shame is not the goal but it reveals itself and I don't even have to say a word.
At church on Sunday, the word "poser" came up. Instantly, my mind went back to middle school. I had moved from one school district to start 6th grade and I was transferred from the land of the preps and introduced to a new level of ranks including a large number of "burnouts". The old school could handle my goody two shoes lifestyle and my Christian t-shirts but I was an outcast with this new prep clique. First day of 6th grade, I wore a sunflower t-shirt with a Bible verse on it. Those first moments waiting outside the school were grueling. I knew one person who just happened to be on family vacation that first week. The first day of 6th grade felt like the beginning of a long journey where I lost myself chasing the ability to blend in.
At church I had my core group of friends who carried my middle school years. Hmmm, turns out I just realized that God actually had my back even more than I remembered. This is why writing helps me. I gain a different perspective. The days at school were unpleasant and I drudged through. Being with the Wednesday night youth group and a week of church camp were the highlights of those years. And honestly church camp was a pivotal time of my entire spiritual walk. On the flip side, school was not a comfortable place.
I remember that I made a new friend in 7th grade and I gravitated towards her. I imagine she invited me to sit with her at lunch but I don't think anyone else at the table wanted me there. But I kept showing up. I was quiet. I mostly kept to myself. I didn't smile at school. But I do have pictures of me smiling at church.
Over time, I changed my style of clothes. I sank more and more into myself which was not entirely about school but more about how I felt about myself and my purpose in life. I didn't feel like I mattered as a person. I felt like a chess piece caught in the custody battle of where I lived. I had a brain surgery in 7th grade. That made me "known" because I had to miss school and came back with part of my head shaved. People think scars are cool and you could see it when we would go up the stairs to class from gym or lunch. But it wasn't about who I was.
Soon enough the other people at the lunch table who were friends with my one friend were the ones who labeled me a "poser". I was naive and I didn't even fully understand what they meant by it, but I knew it wasn't a compliment. Yet I just ignored it. I didn't know what else to do.
There was a girl once who wrote me a note and invited me to a different table. But she was really into God and I was foolishly unwilling to move to her table. That would have been the wise thing to do. Interesting how God was trying to answer my prayers that I cried at home and I wouldn't take the opportunity.
What I wish I could go back and tell my middle school self. I love that through EMDR and inner child work, I actually can make progress in healing these old wounds.
Back to Sunday at church, it was a sermon about the letter in Revelations 3 to the church in Sardis. The church was being called out on their reputation and their works and how they were not in line. They appeared alive but were actually dead. As a Christian, I want to be aware of my actions and my words living up to my calling to follow Christ. In middle school, I was trying to fit in with the world and afraid of who I was called to be. I wasn't happy pretending. I knew I was a fake. And I don't want to live today like I'm a fraud either.
Sharing my yucky memories about being a poser hopefully will remind me that its not worth it to try and fit in. It's not worth it to blend in with the culture. Its not hard to fall into this trap even as a grown up. That is why I'm grateful for the hard honest sermons that allow the Holy Spirit to work in me.
Dear God, Thank you for not wasting any hurt. Your goodness abounds even when it takes me years to see it. I don't want to take my days for granted. I want to be a good example for my kids and walk the walk not just talk the talk. I know I'll fail but I'm so grateful for Your grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer. In His name, amen.