Thursday, May 22, 2014

I remember 7th grade... and why it scares me.

Do you remember those awkward middle school years?

Most of what I remember is embarrassing moments, confusing moments, and wishing I were older... 

When I was asked to talk to the 7th grade girls at our church it took me back to that time. Back to my little classroom at my little K-8 school; back to cheer camp, basketball games, sleepovers, long phone conversations about nothing, huge sibling spats, learning how to put on make-up, and "liking" boys. 

I have to admit something here. When Ben and I were expecting a baby the first time around, I was fearful of having a girl. My fear stemmed from all the bad memories surrounding those middle school (and high school) years that were mainly a result of my being a girl. Those fears still crept up when we were expecting the second time. But around 18 weeks, we found out that God was giving us a daughter. I am not at all saying that I was happy; I was elated! But Satan has a sly way of turning our joy into fear sometimes. I expressed my fears to Ben and a couple of wise friends, and they all had wonderful words of Godly wisdom for me. This is still something I sometimes struggle with. {More on this in a bit.}

The 7th grade Sunday school teacher asked me and two others ladies (all in different stages of life) to talk to the girls about a female from the Bible that we relate to. I really struggled at first on who to parallel my life with. And I also really struggled with feeling confident that the girls would "get" what I wanted to say. 

So, I decided on Mary, mother of Jesus. Funny decision for many reasons, but hopefully you'll see where I was going with it (and hopefully the girls did too). Here's what I shared with them:

I talked about how Mary was asked to do some heavy stuff: become pregnant (by the Holy Spirit) while un-married yet engaged, and then raise the Child as the Son of God. Luke 1 tells us that Mary was initially "confused and disturbed" by what the angel said. But it did not take her long to accept the calling that God had placed on her. 

A few years ago, God asked me to do something that initially disturbed and confused and intimidated me. He brought before me the opportunity to be director of our moms ministry, PEP Moms. Obviously, the task does not compare to the one that Mary was confronted with, but nonetheless, God was asking me to do something that was out of my comfort zone. Luke doesn't tell us exactly how long it took Mary to tell the angel that she was willing to take on the task, but it appears it wasn't very long. I admitted to the 7th grade girls that it took me several days to finally say yes, but I truly believed what the angel told Mary: that with God, all things are possible. 

Less than a year ago, Ben and I were asked to do something that was out of our comfort zone: lead the newlyweds Bible study at our church. In a similar fashion, we were "confused and disturbed" and initially resistant to the prospect. As we prayed and sought advice, again, we came to the conclusion that with God's guidance, we could do it, and that He was asking us to say yes. 

We have learned so much about what it means to be obedient to God through both of these situations. He has entrusted us with these tasks in order to bring Himself glory and to grow us closer to Him. Thinking about how He has guided us thus far and blessed our efforts, ideas, and attempts of new things makes me feel so joyful. It is not always easy or even fun, but I know that God is pleased with my willingness as long as I am doing it for Him. 

Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, praised her for her willingness to be the mother of the Savior of the world. I believe that Elizabeth's encouragement and recognition of God's blessing on Mary's life lifted Mary's spirit and affirmed her. When people give me encouragement and positive feedback, it furthers my belief that I am right where God wants me. Mary responded with a beautiful "song" of praise to God. She said, 

"My soul magnifies the Lord, 
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name..."

God has been so faithful to me in these tasks that He has put before me. Mary mentions the "generations" calling her blessed. For me, those "generations" are my children, grandchildren, and so on. I pray that as a result of my faithful willingness to say yes when led to do so, they will call me blessed, Godly, wise, obedient, faithful, and loving. 

I think the girls understood most of what I was saying and they seemed to pay attention for the most part. 

Back to my fear that I shared earlier...

Raising a daughter in a world so full of perversion really does scare me. The task ahead makes me feel "confused and disturbed." Ben and I are  incapable of raising our daughter (and our son) in a way that pleases God. But just as Mary never questioned her own abilities and fully relied on God to give her the wisdom and guidance necessary to perform her task well, I pray for that kind of faith. A faith that never even considers my own abilities to be an asset. My only tools come from my relationship with my Savior and Lord. He will guide me; he will protect my daughter. I only need to believe that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37)

How do you handle fears?

What are your memories of middle school like- good or bad?

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