Can you help me help my daughter?
She doesn’t want to fit in; in fact, she joyfully embraces the part where God made each one of us different, and she celebrates that truth.
She doesn’t want everyone to like her; in fact, she isn’t bound by that nasty stronghold called fear of man, that strangling insecurity of trying to figure out what everyone—anyone—wants her to be like, so she can be like that and they will like her. Unlike me and most of you at that age (and now), my girl likes herself just the way God made her, so she doesn’t think about if others like her or not.
She doesn’t want to control anyone (except maybe herself and her own mistakes).
She just wants to be friends.
Can you help me help her? See, I watched your girls tonight at youth group. I saw them watching her. I saw their smirks and their frowns, their raised eyebrows when she approached them and tried to start a conversation. I saw them turn their bodies in toward each other and shut.her.out. Sure, some of your daughters replied to her conversation starter question with a short, polite answer before turning away. But they still turned away.
Did you know her dad and I have coached her on how to engage people in conversation? Did you know that at home, we practice how to use our words and our body language to show other people how interested we are in getting to know them, finding out how God made them? Did you know we brainstorm for ideas on how to approach and engage the people on the fringes, the ones who might seem mean or conceited because those body languages might hide insecurity and grief? Did you know we practice leading questions, talking not about ourselves, but asking about the other person, then trying to find a point of connection with them?
Yes. We practice.
Could you practice those conversational skills with your girls? Maybe they just don’t think about what their body language says when they turn away like that. It could be misinterpreted to say, “You’re not valuable to me, so I’m not interested in you.” They can’t be thinking that, right? Not at church, right?
Maybe they don’t know that the fullness of Christ dwells in my girl. Maybe they don’t know how much she loves His Word, how she tried to figure out what God wants her to do with the things He tells her in His Word. Maybe they don’t know how He whispers in her ear encouraging things to say to everyone she meets, how she tells total strangers that Jesus loves them because, “Mom, they might not know.”
Maybe they don’t know that if they mention a prayer request, she writes it in the journal that she carries around for the times she doesn’t know what else to do to reach out to people, so she finds a quiet corner and draws and writes. Maybe they don’t know that she’ll pray for them, that she looks at her notes as talks to God about the people who have said they need prayer, and the people whom others have mentioned need prayer, and anyone else she thinks might need prayer.
Maybe they don’t know how much she loves coming to youth group, how she “never” wants to “miss a week ever, Mom.”
Maybe if they know those parts about my girl, they’d be more interested in getting to know her.
Please, moms of middle school girls at church youth group, can you help me? Let’s make their middle school experience different than ours was. Let’s give them permission to stick out from the crowd and embrace others who stick out from the crowd. Let’s give them room to be who they are, and not who we think they should be, or who their friends think they should be, or who the culture says they should be. Let’s help them discover who Jesus made them to be, and then celebrate them there.
He wants to change the world through them, did you know? He wants to use their generation to declare His truth and display His glory. It’s tougher now than when we were in middle school. Our culture doesn’t like Jesus, but we knew that was coming, right? He told us it was going to be this way.
We have to equip them. We have to train them in the one-anothers, in the way of Body life, because it’s our love for one another that makes us different, that makes us useful, that makes us a significant force for change in this world. When we love each other, we spur each other on to love others, and the Kingdom is built here, now, today.
But we have to lead them by example. We can’t give them the freedom to love Jesus, themselves, and one another with freedom and abandon until we walk in that freedom ourselves. So will you help me?
Thanks for helping me clear up the misunderstandings.
Live loved, because we are,
Candi (Cami’s mom)
Linking up with Jennifer and the #TellHisStory project