The other day, I received some sage advice from a seventh grader. The Pikesville Peak Winter 2012 Edition features a front page article written by my niece Christa Loving, for those “in the middle point in [their] life.” Christa wrote that when you are in the “middle point” in your life, “[y]ou can make it the best time of your life or the worst.”
I believe that this seventh grade wisdom is applicable to your life, regardless of whether you are twelve or ninety-two – or any age in the “middle.” We are all in the “middle” of something, and we can make it the best time of our life or the worst. So I was interested in sharing Christa’s perspective, who wrote that even though she was “new to Pikesville, [she does] know a little bit about how to survive middle school.”
In summary, Christa offers the following words of wisdom:
Be Yourself: Be your “crazy, original, happy, and loving self.” This rings true for all of us. We have to listen to the inner voice of Spirit and be receptive to whatever makes us uniquely us. We were all called to do something phenomenal. As Jeremiah taught us, God said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 5:1).
Don’t Let Anyone or Anything ‘Slow Your Roll’: You can use being bullied and being picked on to “become stronger” and no matter what, “do not let people get [you] down.” Nothing and no one can prevent us from receiving the absolute good that the universe has in store for us. As Paul says in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Don’t Think You Know Everything: There’s always an opportunity to “learn new things, so don’t waltz into 6th grade acting like you know EVERYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING.” It’s important to
“[c]ome in like everybody else with an open-to-learning mind. No one wants to hang around someone who thinks they are a know-it-all.” (Emphasis in Original) This is consistent with what Job concluded when he said that “we were born only yesterday and know nothing” (Job 8:9)). We are in a constant state of growth and transformation. As Jesus said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (John 4:32)). We are smartest when we allow ourselves to be fed not only the food of flesh and of intellect but also of spiritual substance – realizing that the Holy Spirit will “teach [us] all things” – more than we can ever begin to imagine (John 14:26).
Take Advantage of What You Don’t Know to Make New Friends: Asking questions like “where is this class” or “can you help me with my locker” are perfect ways to make friends. “[B]e open to meeting new people: don’t stay stuck in a little cult.” You have to “be bold and walk up to people” and “hang out with as many people as possible.” Jesus said it another way, he said “love one another” (John 13:34). When we love one another, we are compassionate about their feelings; we get to know them; we make time for them; we celebrate them; we help them push through the rough spots; we hold their hand when they need companionship; we praise them when they need uplifting; we forgive them when they’ve made a mistake.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions: Don’t worry about being made fun of for asking questions. You are probably asking the question that several other people want to ask. Jesus said “ask and you will receive” (John 16:24). When we open up our minds and are receptive to the universe, we receive certain questions because they are necessary to push us farther along the path. Our questions themselves are blessings, and if we fail to follow up on them, we don’t open the door to that channel of good.
It’s Cool to be Smart: “Bad grades are not cool! Try to be the smartest. So what if people say ‘you’re some kind of smarty pants.’ Take that as a compliment. You’ll be the one who becomes that millionaire everyone dreams of being. If people say you’re a nerd, those people will end up working for you most likely.” In 2 Chronicles 1:11-12, God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” Wisdom is the greatest wealth we can have. The best wisdom we get is from God, and when we seek first God’s Kingdom, all else will be given – including wealth, leadership and divine ideas.
Keep Your Cool: Peer pressure is not good. You have to be an independent thinker. At one extreme, peer pressure may cause you to “do something dangerous”; at the other extreme, it can also make you do something like “skipping class” or “hitting someone.” Regardless, “it’s not good. It can get you into serious trouble if you mess with the wrong person. So always keep your cool.” Jesus said “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39). Being cool requires us to realize that God is the only leader that we need to follow, in a peaceful, graceful, loving mood.
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