Only one month of confirmation classes remain before we wrap up for the year. It's possible that the middle-schoolers are jumping for joy in anticipation of having their Wednesday nights free throughout the summer months. But me, on the other hand — I'm a mess!
I'm already getting tearful at the thought of another confirmation season coming to a close. Wednesdays are my favorite night of the week! Working alongside our youth, staff and small group leaders is so energizing.
Knowing that the rest of this spring will fly right by, there are a few things I want to reiterate to this year's confirmation students. But these aren't just words for the seventh- and eighth-graders of my community of faith. These are words for every middle school student. These are words I wish I would have heard and believed at 13. In actuality, I'm still learning how to believe them at 29.
You are wonderfully made on the outside and the inside. It's at this stage in your life that worries and insecurities sometimes set in. Maybe you've been worrying about what you look like. Maybe you've been wishing you were better at your schoolwork or your sports team.
I remember standing in the lunch line in seventh-grade and overhearing the girls in front of me talking about the size of their noses. It wasn't a thought I'd ever had before, but suddenly I was overcome with anxieties about my own nose.
Please trust me on this: God did a great job making you, and God is still at work in you. You're going to keep growing and developing and changing. Whenever you look in the mirror, tell yourself something positive. Say: "God did a good job." Even if it feels weird, just try it. Avoid comparing yourself to others, especially celebrities in magazines and movies. God only made one you. Be fully yourself.
Family takes a multitude of forms. I wish more people would have mentioned this when I was your age because it's true! Not every family looks the same, and that's OK. Maybe you live with two parents. Maybe you live with your dad and his girlfriend. Maybe you live with foster parents or step-parents. Maybe you live with your older sister and grandma.
It's possible that your parents are divorced or one of them passed away. It's possible that a parent is in jail or left your family long ago. Whatever your family looks like, please know that God understands. Even if other people don't understand, God gets it, and you never need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. You are forever and ever a child of God.
The other great thing is that we can have family members who aren't even related to us by blood. I think of family members as people who help us grow and be our best. Who are other family members in your life? Teachers? Friends? People at church? Keep expanding your family size by adding encouraging people.
Keep asking questions. You're probably starting to ask some pretty big questions about life and faith lately. Maybe you're asking the kinds of questions that nobody in your family knows how to answer. Your teachers and pastors might not know how to answer them either.
Keep asking those kinds of questions. Never stop.
It's likely that there will not be answers for some of your questions. When you think you find an answer, it will probably just lead to more questions. Life has lots of mysteries. Good news: We don't have to solve them all.
Your thoughts, feelings, and questions are important. No matter where life leads after confirmation classes end, trust that God is with you and the Church needs your questions and your leadership.
The world is brighter because you're in it, and with the gray and gloomy spring we've been having, we need all the sunshine we can get it! Shine bright!