Last night was perhaps one of my worst experiences working with middle schoolers I've had. OK, maybe second to the night during my first year of working with youth, when I broke up fight between 2.5 girls in the library where we were meeting at. Legs, arms, make-up and books were flying everywhere!
Although as with most things in life the bitter is mixed with the sweet.
Last night was also the most rewarding night I've had working with middle schoolers in 3 years. To sum it up my regular 6 girls exploded to 11 - and we had planned an ice cream and pictionary party. If it could have gone wrong it did and I found myself sitting in a room with 11 crazed 6th graders who have no clue how to look beyond themselves. All it takes is one: and I have 3 of that "one". I'd love to list their names but I won't, I will tell you these girls are headed, if no one helps them, to the streets.
That's the toughest part of this volunteer job I have. Seeing these girls for who they can be instead of who they currently are and where they are headed via the choices they are already making. I once read that students will make choices in middle school that they will act on in high school. So after waving my white flag I traveled down the hall to where my BFF (we must use these terms when working with middle schoolers, it's an unwritten code) was hanging out with her 8th graders. It was there that my worst night became my best.
After sharing some pretty raw emotions a dear, dear girl spoke words to me that made me cry. There I found myself bawling as this 8th grade girl, who had been with me for her 6th and 7th grade years, began to speak words of encouragement and then offered to pray for me.This girl was not any girl. She was one of my first girls who sat in a library with me every Wednesday for 2 years. She came along to football games, baked cakes and cookies for me. She drove me nuts with her behavior and disrespect; she was the .5 that I pulled off of the above fight. I sat there tears literally dripping like a faucet as she spoke with grace and maturity. She reminded me that the hard ones need it most. She reminded me that perseverance pays off. She reminded me that love is all we can do, that love is what most of these girls need, that love is all we need. She reminded me that there is hope for the lost.
So, while I'd like to take credit for this young lady's transformation I realized it was God, to be more precise it was Jesus who changed her. See over these past 2 years this 14 year old has gone through more than anyone should go through in a lifetime. Each event along the way we sat down and found comfort in God's Word, in prayer and in laughter and love. It was Christ who set her free from the yuck in her life and she will tell you it is Christ who allows her to get up every day, smile and say, "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" Sure, she's still 14 and has more maturing to do, but looking back I tear up thinking about where she's come from.
God is good.
So when I headed back in to the 6th grade room of horror I had a different bounce in my step, a different perspective. Still a feeling of "why am I here" but a new sense of encouragement and strength.
If you can be a mentor be one, there are so many students out there who just need an adult to love them for who they are and where they are at.
Easy, no, worth it, yes.