Saturday, June 30, 2012

God In The Middle of YOUR Schooling

This post is dedicated to my middle school readers who are sometimes burdened with the angst of
pre-teen drama, hormones nobody told you would suddenly sprout out of nowhere, popularity, inner circles and cliques, and that's all before the school bell rings! God brought me back to a very memorable moment and I'd like to share what I gleaned after He walked me down memory lane.

I still remember my first day of junior high (now called middle school for most). I had made up in my mind that I was invincible, determined, and nobody was going to cramp my style or slow me down. I had grown up in one of the most crime ridden neighborhoods at the time in South Florida, and I had gotten into the Magnet Arts program at my school in the "rich" neighborhood. Granted the parents and teachers there did not want those ghetto kids from the other side of the highway soiling their school reputation (but that's another article) even in 1990. There was still considerable racial tension. But I had been accepted to the Arts program and the Photography program, and lo and behold, as with all gov't sponsored programs, I had to choose which program I was going to start and complete (which no multi-talented child should have to do, but I digress)through middle school. I chose the Art program and today I am an Art teacher among other things.

I remember that day clearly. I walked into the school just as bold as you please and did what any confident, bold, seventh grade girl who was new to junior high would do: I walked up to the most popular 9th grader and asked him out on a date. Imagine my surprise when he laughed me to scorn! Along with his posse, by the way. Yep, he had a crew of obnoxious friends and I was about to get schooled on "what not to do the first day of school when you are the lowest on the totem pole of coolness".

I was about to get taught a lesson that did not stick fortunately. I have come to understand that visionless people will spend their lifetime trying to "teach you a lesson" that God never intended for you to learn. Lessons like "how to be negative" or "how to get over on the system" or "knowing your place is beneath me" or even "how to be rude and vindictive". Just because an instructor shows up, doesn't mean the lesson is for YOU. Sometimes you have to tell people, "I love you, but I respectfully disagree and I don't receive that for my life." I have come to this conclusion: when God is teaching, always take notes!

This young man who I thought on first glance and outer appearance was someone I would want to get to know, turned out to be a jerk, a bully, and someone who took pleasure in being hurtful and mean, not just to me, but to anyone he thought was beneath him. He tried to "teach" me that you don't roll up in new territory trying to take on giants. Well, that's exactly what Joshua and Caleb did! Now, I did learn the important lesson that it is NEVER cool to approach any guy for a date! (What was I thinking?) As for the rest, well because I didn't cower in shame, or show any embarrassment for being rebuffed, he and his cronies took it upon themselves to harrass me for quite a while.

My nickname? Colors. Yep, I was just as bright and flourescent then as I am now. I still like to be colorful and that hasn't changed, but let me tell you it was a HUGE joke to them. Everytime they saw me, they'd sing Ice T's song. "Colors" and follow me down the hall. That song was the soundtrack of my 7th grade year. I didn't care what they thought about how I dressed. I simply ignored them, and you know what? It eventually stopped. I refused to let them dictate my day. I didn't walk a different way to avoid them. What they did not understand was that I had a will of iron, and no teasing, taunting, or bullying was going to make me succumb to their foolish behavior.

It would be many years later, on a trip home during my freshman year of college that I saw one of the guys who had been instrumental in keeping the teasing going. He couldn't have recognized me because he was actually trying to flirt in his McDonald's uniform! I could not believe this was the same guy who had made me entertainment! I really wanted to give him a piece of my mind, and remind him who I was and how he had treated me, but I didn't.  I realized it simply wasn't worth it, and that life had probably done a number on him already, and I didn't need to add to that.

I never saw him again, but I still think about what might my life have been like if I had made different choices? Would I have been caught up in having fun in school and never really learning anything that would help me in life? I remembered this guy being really arrogant and really smart. Why was he flipping burgers?

Maybe that's you today. Maybe you've been so busy looking at what you have or don't have, or what someone else has, that you haven't really been paying attention to your own life-o-meter. Time is ticking, and if you spend it worried about other folks' business, what will happen to your own time? Will you miss those doors of opportunity because you enjoy window shopping at the lives of others?

I believe that God allows us moments where past collides with the present to show us that it wasn't as bad as we thought, and that our future will be brighter than it is right now. Take those moments, learn from them, share the lessons you've learned, pray for those who used you, mistreated you, ridiculed you, tried to make you feel insignificant, or tried to marginalize you.

Don't let the attitudes around you set you back, but propel you forward, move you to be great because the God who created you is great. Walk confidently down the hallways of life, because class is really in session all around you. There is always a lesson to be learned when God is in the middle of your schooling!