My sweet middle school female students. I stand up in front of you daily and teach you about the periodic table, the different types of cells, and how chemical reactions happen. Sometimes you ask me questions you should really be asking your mom, but since we have been together for so long, I answer questions about your new crush, your grades, the latest trends, and what should you tell your friend when they don’t like you because it’s Monday.
However, deep down inside of me, I want to tell you so much more.
I sometimes let it slip when we are in conversations, but then I quickly pull myself back for fear of getting in trouble. In a written letter by Thomas Jefferson around the year 1802 there was a term coined, “separation of church and state.” This fancy term basically means I cannot talk to you about religion or tell you about my own beliefs.
Girls, if you are reading this, and I pray you are, I have something I want to tell you. Actually, I have a lot I want to tell you. Sitting here behind my computer, I can be the real me. I can tell you the things I want you to hear. So, here it goes . . .
I want to tell you that what God has given to other people is not going to work for you.
You come in with your Hydroflask, and your shell necklace, and I get it. This VSCO girl trend you are following is just that. Next year there will be a new trend and one after that and another one after that. Often my heart breaks for you girls because, at a time when you are trying to figure out who you really are, you have Instagram and TikTok to confuse you. You have these channels of different people, and you say crazy things like, “I want to be TikTok famous!”
I get it. I do. I want to be a famous blogger but that doesn’t mean I’m changing who I am to find that avenue, and I wish you would do the same. I wish you would go through middle school life with such confidence that it scares the people around you.
I want to tell you God created you the way you are. The way you look, the way you act, it was all designed before you were born. You are whomever God says you are, and with that, be you! Because girl, you are amazing.
It is OK for your lives to be imperfect.
I want you to be you and that means to not hide your struggles from others around you and to lean in to God. God loves you bigger than any mistake you have ever made or will ever make. And you will make such terrible mistakes throughout your life. It is OK! If they happen in the next couple of months, I will be here to pick you back up. Even if they happen after you’ve left my classroom or I’ve left my classroom, I’m always here.
Mistakes are going to happen. In Matthew 7:1 it says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” God is not going to judge. And in the words of Brad Paisley, “Wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun!” Live your life. Have fun. Make your mistakes but remember who the real you is.
You can rise above any situation you are in right now. Maybe your home life isn’t great. Maybe you accept food bags because your family is struggling. Your parents are divorced, you have figured out you do not like boys, you do not have money for nice clothes, or you cannot for the life of you figure out math (don’t worry, me either.) Girl, you can and will get out of that.
This moment in life even though it feels so hard, is temporary.
Middle school and high school will be over before you blink. If these moments suck for you. Hang on girl. It’s going to be over so quick. I’m sure you see me standing there, and it appears like my life is together. I went to college, I have a degree, right? Sure. All of that is true now but there was a time when I was in your seat.
Rewind back to high school—my county decided to cut off the district line close to my house. The majority of my friends who loved and accepted me went to a different school. There I was. A trailer park girl smack dab in the middle of a high school where everyone’s bathrooms were bigger than my house. I was embarrassed. Mortified. I knew right there, day one, I was not going to fit in with the kids at this school. I tried so hard. Too hard.
I attended the senior parties. I kissed the boy everyone liked (sorry, Mom, if you are reading this). I listened when he told me I was the prettiest girl in the school just because he thought he could get me in a bedroom. And I made myself out to be someone I hated.
I was someone who today I wish I could go back and smack.
If I could go back and tell that girl anything, I would tell her just like I told you above: be you, you are amazing, and you’ve got so much up ahead. I would tell her the boy is a liar, the friends you think you have are fake, and it does not matter one dang bit about the house you live in. It matters most about the people who live in the house with you and how much they love you. It matters that the core group of friends you have will be your friends forever. And Dana, you are a beautiful girl with a great future ahead of you, so eat whatever in the heck you want. I wish I had a rewind button.
Maybe the most important—know your self-worth. Girl, you are worthy of being loved and worthy of being someone. If there are people bothering you, in the words of Rachel Hollis, “Other people’s opinion of you do not matter.” While I preach this phrase to you a lot, I really want you to embrace it. Walk down those hallways with confidence. Even though it feels like they are talking about you, they are really caught up in themselves. Do not listen to them. They do not know you. And those who do know you will be there when you are 25 and 35.
Girl, do not send a picture of your body parts to him! He is a 12-year-old boy who does not know what love is. He is a liar if he tells you all the girls are doing it or he promises he won’t show it to your friends. Know your self-worth. You are more than a picture that could be tossed around on social media.
You are loved! You are loved because He loves you. No, not that cute boy. God.
He loves you so much. He created you with a purpose. In return, please, love yourself. In situations when you feel like the darkness has taken over and there is no way you can escape, you will. When you feel so sad, think positive and remember this is all so temporary. There will be mountains in your way. But remember God is in the hills and the valleys. It is OK to fall down crying. but my last and final thought to you is to take those moments, get up, wipe the tears away from your eyes, and start dancing.
Previously published on the author’s blog