To 13-Year-Old Me

I see you’re feeling pretty sorry for yourself. You think it’s the worst year of your life, and I don’t blame you. You’ve taken some awfully hard punches in 1968. It’ll be another four decades before life knocks you to the mats, and you’re almost down for the count.

Let me assure you. You and Jesus make it through the eighth grade. He never leaves your side. But if you could know now, what I know from the future, the next couple years could be a little easier. Here’s what I’ve learned.

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  1. Forget boys. Really. They’ll still be around in a few years, and you’ll be a lot better able to handle whatever they throw at you, be it a baseball or a slick slide from your waist up and across your chest. Invest in a couple of good girlfriends instead. If you have to choose between a heart-fluttering jaunt around the bay with Surfer Joe or keeping your girls’ day out date with Laurie Lee, stick with Laurie. She’ll be there long after Joe motors off into the sunset with someone else. shutterstock_119402656-480x320
  2. Forget the In Group. I know you think they’re your ticket to a great social life, but you don’t even like big parties. You hate to talk about the latest fashions, the coolest rock stars. Why do you want that kind of social life? Could it be the boys? See Lesson #1.

At least, you figure some things out by senior year in high school, and you enjoy choosing some good friends. I’m telling you: you could have had that blessing a lot sooner.

  1. Use the talents God gave you. Now. You don’t have to wait until after college and make one of your gifts a career. People have started to tell you that you have a great singing voice. You’ve even sung solos. Enjoy those times. Work at getting even better.

You’ve known you wanted to be a teacher since you were four. What about helping out with the nursery class at Sunday school? Or, here’s a daring thought. What if you offered babysitting services to the unwed mother down block? Teen moms must be even lonelier than you.

You know how you enjoy writing? Surprise! You publish several magazine articles during years when you’re not teaching. And after you retire? You write FULL TIME. How cool is that?

  1. Kick self-pity out of your life. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Your dad’s at war, your sister’s in and out of doctors’ offices, your mom needs your support, and your friends faded into nonexistence just because you moved away for four months. Will it help to learn your dad survives, your sister grows up to be a teacher just like you, your mom was a lot stronger than you gave her credit for, and new people were quite willing to be your friend? But you blew it. The self-pity blinded you. So don’t blow it.

You asked Jesus into your life when you were ten, and your current Sunday School teacher makes a lot of sense as he shares his faith in class. Listen to him, and copy him.  If you’re looking at Jesus instead of your poor little self, YOU WILL HAVE JOY!

  1. This is a question, not a lesson learned. While you have a great sense of rhythm, a nice smile, and a voice that projects across the basketball court, you are one of the most uncoordinated people I know. Do you really want to be a cheerleader in high school, or do you just hope Quarterback Kevin will notice you?  See Lesson #1. Again.13 yr Linda

Body Envy

We’ve all done it. Probably girls more than guys. Envied someone because of their thick straight hair or gorgeous curls. Their thin legs, tiny waist, six-pack abs. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about spiritual gifts. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a musical bone in my body. So one might think, I’d want God to grant me a beautiful voice or the talent to play the piano. That would be cool but really the gift I most covet is the gift of administration. Weird huh?
I would love to have the ability to head up a team and delegate out tasks. But that’s not me. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a purpose in leadership. Or lack gifts. Or even that I’m ungrateful for the gifts I have. I love the passage in I Corinthians 12 about spiritual gifts. “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.” (I Corinthians 12:14-15 ESV)
Last weekend I was on a retreat that I helped plan. The retreat was a huge success and the committee chair called us her “Dream Team”. We had a leader with the gift of administration in spades (or maybe diamonds), the servant who did, did, did, the cheerleader with a ton of ideas and great enthusiasm, the quiet behind-the-scenes lady, and me, the data head. All of us worked hard and excelled in our roles. Most of all we prayed. A lot.
My skills were used and tested as the one who collected the money and kept the master spreadsheet with all of the details. My attention-to-detail engineer’s mind loved it. And I was spared the task of calling people for last-minute ride arrangements. Whew! I hate, loathe, and despise talking on the phone. That is until the caller got sick (symptoms included a lost voice), and the backup was out all day. Did you catch the word last-minute? Did I mention mucking up this detail was my biggest fear and logistics was the area I prayed over the entire time we were planning?
I had the phone numbers and the time. So out of my pillow-padded comfort zone I went. No one got left behind. We had an amazing time. And I performed under the promise “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)
Is there a talent or spiritual gift you would love to have?
When was a time when you got to perform in your sweet spot?
What about a time when you were pulled out of your comfort zone?