Monday, April 07, 2008

1984

Take a stroll with me, would you? Here, I'll even give you some walking music.






Ahhh yes, 7th grade: the time when everything was different - clothes, school, the body itself. It was here that I first learned to change classes every hour. It was here that I discovered how truly inept I was at Social Studies/History (Sorry Mr. Webber... I really did try! I just couldn't make those dates stick in my head.) It was here that everything held more meaning than it should have. Any action was fraught with emotions from all sorts of causes - a broken pencil, a ton of homework, parents not understanding me, the fact that Jeff W. wouldn't acknowledge that I was alive.

Oh yeah. These times? They were, like, you know, kickin'. (Not to mention full of many tears, moments of frustrations and questions about whether I was good enough. Good enough for what, you ask? Well, for anything.)

And yet...

7th grade was also when I met my best friend Mandy, the first girl that I felt actually understood me and truly liked me anyway. Shy, quiet Mandy teamed up with loudmouth, outgoing me... We were like the Laurel and Hardy of the middle school. She was blonde, pretty and extremely talented with the art pencils. I was brunette, acne-covered and not good at much except making others laugh. However, we were both pretty smart. We had that in common and we were in the same classes all day long. (It was in 7th grade where we began changing classes, but we did it as a whole class. I think the administrators thought that it would help us to slowly work in changes.) Boy did we make a great team in each class! She was my chum, the sister I never had, my secret keeper, my bosom friend.

This was also the year that I became friends with Danny. We had earlier due to the fact that his sister and my brother were in choir together in high school. Both of our parents helped with all choir activities and trips. So we had met, but had never taken the time to befriend each other. Here is where it happened: in the cafeteria and in our own music class - one class where they did join some of the students. There we had our common ground that lead to other eventual common grounds.

It was in this time that I found secure footing at church. As a new Christian, I wanted to be useful. So I became a JOY Bus teacher, singing and telling stories every Sunday morning as we picked up kids for church. I, along with all my church friends (who also became school friends since the middle school had many of the elementary schools merge into one) also became a more involved with the youth group. Attending their teen times, getting to be one of the "elite" (you know - how you thought those older than you getting to do things you couldn't - they were just so cool!), joining in the youth activities, youth rallies and mini-mission trips where we would help others. But the big thing we were able to do was to go to Chickasaw... the memorable, fun-filled week of summer camp that everyone looked forward to attending. Never mind that it was the Middle School version of the High School week. All that mattered is that we arrived.

Although I look back at seventh grade and see the typical questions of abilities or being acceptable to others (and always - I saw myself as not pretty... I think that comes with the territory of being a tween), there was still that spark of something inside of me that knew I was valuable, that I was okay. I was, for the most part, able to be myself without too much worry about what others thought of me. I actually liked me! (I only wished that God had saw fit to at least give me a chest. That might have helped with the self-confidence in 7th grade...)

Surprisingly, in this tumultuously rocking boat on a sea of change, where several of my friends fell, I found secure footing in who I was and what was slowly molding and defining me. I was pretty comfortable with the way was God making me, who he brought around me to shape my mind and emotions and into what he was making me: a likable, funny girl with a heart ready to take on what the world would give.

That, my friends, was worth more than anything I could think of value at the time, even more than Jeff W. noticing me.

(Strangely enough, The Girl is fast approaching these same years. I have hope, as I watch her now, that she will in fact, turn out to be my daughter. This is when I truly hope she takes after me.)

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