Faith Kids Motherhood School

Thoughts on Middle School and The World

Thoughts on Middle School and The World www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Christine Carter

Last week, my daughter’s middle school had 66 suspensions.

In one week.

And one arrest.

I found out when she texted me the stats with several exclamation points after them.

My heart sunk and my pulse quickened.

She’s scared. I know my girl is scared.

Fear is a tricky thing. I know because I often live in it. I’m afraid that may be where my girl got this malicious and tormenting trait. She’s almost in 8th grade, but she’s young for her class. Not even 13 yet, she still has a very innocent way about her. I gotta say, I love that more than sunshine.

I dreaded sending her to middle school when she was starting 6th grade. I cringed at the anticipated exposure she was going to experience. I knew this school would open her world, her perspective, her view-

And the landscape might scare her, even scar her.

And yet, I sent her anyway.

I spent agonizing months deciding between home school or public school. I went round and round in pros and cons and worries and wonderings while praying for peace and an answer.

Eventually I rested on what I believe to be God’s purpose for her life.

She exudes His Light, and the way I see it- the world needs more of it.

Middle school is a cruel awakening to the world, and although I was afraid to release her into the wild, I had hope that her faith and fortitude would be enough to both protect her and provide for her the ability to navigate the landscape with grace and purpose.

I’ve been in awe of her courage, her stamina, and her survival in this challenging journey. She doesn’t have many friends, as she quietly resides under the radar of the fragmented fray. She loves learning, and dives deeply into her studies and adores her teachers. She quietly roams the hallways undetected as she often keeps to herself, in a loud and sometimes violent and vicious culture that seems almost foreign to her.

This year, she began leaving encouraging notes in people’s lockers. There were a few people she interacted with who shared some intense battles of their own- and she felt the need to offer support in a personal way. She wrote notes filled with scripture verses that she truly believed would inspire them. Bless her. It was difficult to shift her determination, as I explained how someone who does not read the bible or know Christ could interpret her notes as threatening or pushy and not comforting, like she had so sweetly intended them to be. I explained that although we find comfort in God’s Word, we must consider the recipient and how they may not understand our offering. Her eyes widened in revelation and panic, worried she did the wrong thing. I reassured her that sending messages of hope and love is never the wrong thing. She continued with the notes, editing out scripture.

This was very difficult for both of us. But I wanted to teach her how to reach people’s hearts for the Lord, with awareness and respect. I wanted to guide her through making decisions in connecting and caring for others right where they’re at first, and show her the tender ways she can open hearts to Jesus through establishing relationships and trust. I wanted to show her how the world works, and how threading our faith into it can be both rewarding and incredibly challenging.

But most importantly, I wanted her to keep feeding that flame of faithful determination and innocent inspiration. I pray the world never blows it out.

There are many days, my daughter comes home exasperated with what she saw or heard at school. She expresses disgust and anger about many things she doesn’t understand and why people would make such horrible choices. Sometimes the judgment in her voice makes me cringe, and I have to challenge her condemnation and lead her toward conviction. There are many things in this world that ignite a fury of anger and disgust and our immediate response is judgment and condemnation. My girl is facing the greatest education in managing and processing Grace in a turbulent time, and as a Christian- these are the most important lessons of all.

How do we respond, when we witness wrongdoings? What does God want us to do? How would Jesus respond?

It’s a loaded question, littered with all kinds of biblical answers, Christian messages, and misconceived truths. It’s complicated and often convoluted. This is new territory for my girl, and I’m grateful to have this practice ground to work with her, because for the rest of her life she will be facing the same question and each and every time she will have to respond.

My daughter’s middle school experience has been a lonely one, and that makes my heart ache with sadness and discouragement often. But I remind her that she does have friends- true friends, even though they may not be with her at school. I continue to encourage her to be open to making new friends, and not close herself off in that critical outlook she sometimes gathers in her protective path. For two years, I’ve watched her slump into sadness for this reason, but it has helped her learn what true friendship really means. She has developed an instinct for who to trust and who not to trust. She’s learning the value of being real with those you choose to have around you, and how superficial relationships are a waste. She’s developed the art of discernment, picking friends who celebrate who you are and ones who respect your voice. She realizes that her foundation is full of principles and values she will not bend for anyone, and boundaries can’t be broken for the sake of fitting in or saving face. She’s already witnessed the demise of old friends, falling victim to social pressures with poor decisions and reckless behavior.

Somehow, my girl has managed to stay grounded in her foundation while the battlefield for popularity, commonality, and conformity runs rampant. Her unwavering will to stick to her morals, continues to build more muscle strength, as she makes those hard decisions and stands firmly on her ground. I’m betting she will need this impenetrability to solidify before she enters the doors of High School. 

Two years ago, I gave my girl to the world, believing that God wanted her there to do His work. I was terrified to let her go. I was clinging to the promise of God’s provision, protection, and plan for her life.

I know my girl would be thriving in a private Christian school that offers bible classes, daily devotions and regular chapel services. She would eat that buffet up, soak it in, and soar into the world equipped, strengthened, and faithful.

But this road we chose? This rocky winding path offers my young and growing Christian Soldier true training ground that will equip her for years to come. It may be difficult, lonely, and scary. It may open views I’d rather she not see. It may steal her innocence and limit her light, but both still prevail in new ways- sculpted by His Mighty Hand to be used for His Good.

Mom! Someone got arrested yesterday and we were told there were 66 suspensions just last week.”

I pick her up from school, and see her weary and worried eyes. This stuff takes a toll on my girl, I know.

Are you afraid?”

And she replies, “Yeah. But I’ll be okay.

This world can be scary, but God calls us to walk in it and shine His Light.

It’s scary for us all

But we’ll be okay.

My daughter said so.

About the author

Christine Carter

Chris Carter is a SAHM of two pretty amazing kids. She has been writing at http://themomcafe.com/ for six years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration and faith. You can also find her work on For Every Mom, Blunt Moms, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Mamapedia, Her View From Home, Huffington Post, MomBabble, and Scary Mommy. She is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.”

  • Kathy Hiener

    Beautifully written. Such a rough time for our children; the umbilical cord is not quite cut and yet we must do the healthy thing and begin to let go.

    • Chris Carter

      Thank you Kathy. Yes, letting go is so hard. When I let go of her every single morning, I hand her over to God. That gives me comfort and peace. <3

  • Kelly McKenzie

    Oh, Chris. She truly is unique. I think the best gift you could have given her was to allow her to attend Middle School and learn to stickhandle the challenges it offered. Nice job, Mom. This is also beautifully written.

    • Chris Carter

      Oh Kelly, your encouragement means so very much to me. Thank you, friend!

  • wow, wow, wow..what a powerful post Chris..what a dear, beautiful daughter you’ve raised, what a tough choice to send her to the wolves!! What courage mama, to trust God holds her, to not make the choice not to isolate her from the harsh realities of the world..be believe God will use her, strengthen her, and protect her. I soooo relate to this as I partially home schooled and did alternative schools my son during his early years (only because he was bored and didn’t fit into the learning style in public school)..but by high school he wanted to go to a regular school..boy what a harsh reality the culture of drugs sex etc.it’s been a battle to continue to guide him through the minefields..even in his last semester we are continuing long talks, helping him discern, setting boundaries, helping him to keep his fragile faith, and praying praying praying for protection and for him to choose well..there’s nothing that’s shocking to him, he knows the world, and we hope he will continue to make good choices and find friends who do the same. But…it’s truly a heartwrenching journey..Your daughter has such a deeply strong faith and it will be her anchor and her strength.I pray she finds faith filled friends..but know God is with her. You are such a good mom..you made a tough choice based on faith.

    • Chris Carter

      Kathy, how I adore your response to this piece! I can only imagine how difficult and challenging it must have been for you and your son- and still continues to be. I know my walk with my girl will only get harder as she ages. Growing up in this world is not easy for any child. I’m so glad our kids are clinging to their faith for strength and guidance and I pray that never wavers.

  • I just wish I could reach through and give your girl a hug. Seriously, she is amazing young lady with a truly aw inspiring mom. thanks for sharing here, Chris!! <3

    • Chris Carter

      Aw! Thanks so so much, my friend. You are so kind to say that.

  • Wow, what a powerful story, Christine! I have to say though, of it all, this was my favorite line:
    “She exudes His Light, and the way I see it- the world needs more of it.”
    So good! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Chris Carter

      Thank you so much Tawni! I really appreciate your support, and yeah- I like that line too. #TRUTH 🙂

  • So well-written Chris! You speak from the heart. And look how your daughter has grown and given much-needed light.

    • Chris Carter

      Thank you so much Katy. She has blessed ME with that light. She’s really amazing. <3

  • I applaud her courage and pure heart. My kids are younger and homeschooled…but even still I find them having all sorts of exposure even at the neighborhood park. We can’t shield them forever and they do need to learn to shine their light.

    • Chris Carter

      Thank you so much Gina, and you are so right. We can’t shield them at all, nor do I think we should. I know how difficult it is to walk alongside our kids as their views open up to the world, and yet I am SO grateful I have a chance to speak into their perspective and help them build solid groundwork to continue their steps. It’s sometimes scary and overwhelming, but it’s the great privilege of parenting!

  • Deep sigh from the mom who has to give her son to middle school in just a few short months. I’m afraid for his experiences too. I feel in my heart that he will not get caught up in any mess but I also fear for his isolation staying on the right side of the fence.

    But side note, I know a young lady exactly like your daughter. She has just graduated with honors from college and already has a job. She has held onto her faith and gone through high school and college with a no nonsense attitude. She is ready for the world. And she DiD make lifelong friends in college. She met similar people and others who were drawn to her discipline. It won’t take your daughter all the way to college to shine though. Middle school these days for the good kids just sucks – period. She’s just got that one more year to get through. I’ll keep all of our children in prayer.

    • Chris Carter

      Oh Kenya! I’m just SO encouraged by that! I hope and pray my girl follows the exact same path! Thank you so so much for sharing her story with me. And I have a every confidence that Christopher will do the exact same- shine his light and stick to his path. We’ve got good kiddos, you and I. 🙂

  • She’s made it far, and she’ll still soar. I think that’s so sweet about the notes. As a Jewish girl, I’m not sure how I would have interpreted them at that age, but I’m hoping I would have as I would now – just with an open heart and love. Like she meant!
    She’ll be ok. Scarlet too – also young for her grade and sure to still be so amazingly innocent.

    • Chris Carter

      I kinda cringed when I find out about her sharing the scripture, for that very reason. But one thing I truly believe is that somehow God will use it for good. One of the girls she doesn’t know well, and from a totally different neighborhood and different culture asked her to keep writing them. My girl did, and honestly started to get tired of doing it. Bless her heart! LOL She lasted for a while and decided she was done with that little mission. But I loved that this girl ATE it UP.

  • Live by Surprise

    I do understand the need to shield children from such things – but exposing them in a thoughtful way will bring them so much farther along. How beautiful that she’s not only taking your lead – but you’re learning from her as well.

    • Chris Carter

      Yes, we are both learning and growing together. That is so true! Thank you friend, for your thoughtful comment and encouragement! XO

  • Allie

    You have a very brave and kind daughter. I would be scared at her age to take a public stance about my faith. Impressive! Aud goes to middle school next year and I am scared. It’s much different experience for girls. Oh boy!

    • Chris Carter

      I honestly am amazed at her confidence and courage. I never had it at her age, and I don’t have it now! Middle school is definitely a door to the world, but I just KNOW Aud will be okay, if she’s anything like her mama.

  • Those notes in the lockers! That is so wonderful, Chris. She is an angel. My son has struggled this year as well. I think it’s something about 7th grade. I’ve heard this from a lot of people. My daughter struggled in middle school too. They are rough years, but any precious little girl leaving scripture notes in lockers is going to be just fine. I truly believe that, my friend :). XO!