“Never let it be said that the young people
are powerless or incapable.”
~Shimshon, in Resistance, by Jennifer A. Nielsen
submitted by S. D. in 6th grade
|One of the March Book Madness books that my students (and I) have been exploring. |
They have been bringing me quotes to share with the rest of the class from these Bold and Brave characters.
Today I love divine timing. This is the quote that I asked all of Middle School to copy down in their Writer’s Notebooks yesterday, our last day of face to face school until April 6th. I did not know I was going to use this quote until I got to school, and looking back now I am amazed at the divine timing.
You see, yesterday morning as I was driving (and running late), I was listening to 1 Corinthians 12 as part of our Bible reading plan at my church. It automatically moved to the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, and before I could switch to the rest of the “assigned” reading I was drawn in again by this well known section of scripture known as the LOVE chapter. What a blessing these words are to clearly define who God wants us to be.
When I arrived at school and found this quote submitted by one of our sweet 6th graders, I knew God was putting the pieces together as He always does. The first piece actually fell into place months ago at our annual Middle School retreat where we all learned the vast difference between a REACTION and a RESPONSE. (Response is ALWAYS better!) Yesterday we talked at length about how they CAN be powerful and capable in these next several weeks.
After asking them to jot down the quote, I asked them to raise their hands if they have ever, in the past...oh...anywhere from 13 minutes to 13 years...felt completely powerless. All the hands raised. Middle schoolers are well acquainted with that feeling unfortunately, as are many of us “grown ups”.
I then asked them to listen in as I read that LOVE chapter to them, pausing often and asking them to jot down ways they can RESPOND in love over these next days and weeks rather than REACT in fear and panic. We looked at all of the specific ways that 1 Cor. 13 asks us to respond: in patience, in kindness, in refusal to become angry, in refusal to boast or be envious, and so many more. I wish you could have seen the hands raised and heard the things they jotted down.
"I'll help with the dishes!"
"I'll help my mom out at her shop."
"I'll (try) not to fight with my siblings." (I love their honesty!)
“I’ll keep a positive outlook.”
And on and on and on. In fact, many of them made commitments to make it all the way through break WITHOUT having to be reminded to do their school work. We talked about what vast power they had to lift that one single stress off of their families’ shoulders. I was so proud of them.
We talked about the whole "talked like a child, reasoned like a child...but when I became an [adult] I put away childish things" section. I reminded them (and I will remind you) that the absolute joy (and frustration) of being in middle school is that within any given day...or any given 5 minutes...middle school students can be both child and adult. They are still walking that fine line between childhood and adulthood and they know it. They know that there will be times when their fun and exuberant childlike sides will be needed. They know that dopamine, the hormone that makes us happy, is released when you laugh and that they are gifted with the ability to make people laugh! They know that there will also be times when their responsible and focused adult sides will be needed. Times when they will need to be on the lookout for a way that they can help. Times when they will be asked to do something and will need to respond with a simple, “Okay!” I told them that these days will be ones that they will remember for the rest of their lives, as many of us remember events from our own generations: the days following the assasination of President Kennedy, the blizzards of the late 70s, the days following 9/11. I’ve asked them to keep a journal of the events of these days to look back on later. I can’t wait to hear all of the ways that they do prove themselves to be powerful and capable.
Which brings me to the rest of us...the “grown ups”. Please never underestimate the power you have in your own right. The Man and I got up early this morning to try to beat the crowds and run a few errands, including the grocery store. I walked out with the sides of my face actually sore from smiling at people and listening to bits and pieces of their stories. As I told one woman “Good morning” and walked on past, it registered to me that she was in scrubs. I stopped and said, “You work in the medical field?” She said yes, and I thanked her for her hard work, telling her I would hug her if I could, but I explained that she probably didn’t want a hug. She had a vaguely familiar look on her face. One that I have seen in children who do indeed need a hug, but do not know how to ask for it. I asked, “Or do you need a hug? I am not afraid to hug you.” She said, “Okay,” and opened her arms. I pulled back and asked her where she worked. She said the name of a local nursing home and I went right back in for a stronger, tighter hug. She hugged me right back and we both left with tears in our eyes.
Friends, at our school we operate under two very simple rules: Love God. Love Others. In these particularly strange and different days, I hope you can spend some time pondering this quote with your family and keep those two simple rules in mind. Let’s remember how much power and capability we have to be patient, kind, humble, others-seeking instead of self-seeking, not easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs, and delighting in truth. Let’s protect, trust, hope, and persevere...and for goodness’ sake, let’s love.