Tuesday, March 27, 2018

high school is hard

dear lovely-beautiful-hurting-high school girls. let me tell you something you probably already know: it isn’t easy.

high school is hard.

it was hard for me when i was your age ... and, i promise, it's been hard for my girls as well.

this middle daughter of mine, right here in this picture. yep, she struggled too. i know this photo looks kinda wonderful---she’s 18. she’s blowing out the candles. she’s got friends surrounding her. and there’s this beautiful birthday glow-thing going on. heck, she's even having a good hair day!

pictures are really good at showing lovely moments like this.

and it was a lovely moment. i captured it with my camera and later that night looking through my photos i felt incredible gratitude for this group of girlfriends around my daughter.

we need people around us.

no matter how independent or self-sufficient or introverted God designed us, He made all of us with this little seed inside which greatly desires community.

but, let’s face it, the community found in high school can sometimes be hard. hellish. on somedays, downright crappy.

social media doesn't help.

i want you girls reading this right now to know that even when the instagrams and snapchat stories look pretty darn great … even when the girl looks popular and put-together and incredibly poised … there is (usually always) more to the story. 

(and that, friends, is true no matter what our age)!

i can tell you that this girl in this photo with all these smiling friends around her has had her share of sad, lonely, heart-heavy days. she’s been excluded, left-out, rejected and ignored.

i know ... because i'm her mom. i was there. gosh, was i there.

there have been parties and plans to which she was not invited. 

high school can be hard.

especially in her first two years of high school:  i can’t tell you the number of times she was in tears. i can’t even begin to count the number of talks we had about friends and fitting in. it is hard for me to even think back to some of that without my mama-bear blood beginning to boil all over again.

and, let me be clear, my girls haven't always been the victims. i am absolutely positive they've made someone somewhere feel unimportant, unwanted or inferior.

i don’t know why it has to be this way.
gosh, i wish it wasn't.

as a mom, i wish i could just wave my fairy-real-mother-wand over the public and private schools everywhere and just make everyone n i c e . i've actually dreamed about traveling around and giving talks on this subject to girls across the country--cities and suburbs alike. that sounds seriously corny, but i really have dreamt that. 

but, truth is, i’m not sure “talks” are going to change the fact that high school is hard.  and there will probably always be those who (because they themselves are hurting) hurt others.  

i don’t know how much of an impact a “talk” might have, but i do know having someone to “talk to” is key. having someone (parent, teacher, mentor, pastor, friend) is necessary for survival. i wish that for each of you girls reading this right now. 

dear ones, if you’re hurting, if nothing is helping, if you’re barely holding on …  my prayer is that you find a person in whom you can confide. don’t worry about burdening someone with your stuff ... don't worry about embarrassing yourself …  i implore you to find someone who can walk with you. 

because, as we've already established ...

high school is hard.

harder than when i was there, that's for sure. many times, i have declared how grateful i am to have grown up without the pressure of social media -- especially in those years when i was having some pretty exceptional self-esteem struggles. gosh, i shudder to think ...

again, the instagrams look great, right? you can call it fake or false if you want, but it’s kind of how it goes with most people. sorry to say girls, but most of us just don’t post about our broken hearts or our bruised egos … or blemishes.  yes, we can all do a better job at being authentic in all areas — including social media, but i want you girls to to know and to remember: no one  (NO ONE) has it all together. no one has it all figured out. 
no. one. has. it. all. 
no one.

i know what you do. i know how you scroll through the instagram feed and compare your bodies and your beauty and your legs and your lives to each other. i know how you deliberate over the cleverness of your caption and the cuteness of your clothing. i know. i'm almost 50 and i do it to some degree too. we're human. 

but remember, life is not lived inside the photo-frame. real life doesn't have filters and editing tools. 

there's nothing wrong with posting a pretty picture. y'all know i sure like posting pretty things. i am just encouraging you to be careful---especially in the area of comparison. 

though a picture might be worth a thousand words, we all know it never quite reveals the full story. 

this girl in this photo ... well, she is about to leave the high school years behind. she graduates in less than two months. (btw, i'm starting to feel kind of a mess about that fact) and whereas she’s been having a really great senior year, i know she would be okay with me telling you high school hasn’t always been so great. 

yes, i'm so glad she's ending on such a good note, but i never want her to forget some of those struggles she had in these past four years. i do believe that God uses even the brutal, broken, lonely, left-out moments in our lives. those hard high school years can be holy because through them God can make us whole.  and, though i wish it were different, sometimes we only learn that lesson when we are left out or lost a little. we learn that our identity and worth is in Him alone. not in how we feel day to day in the hallways of high school. 

oh girls, we don’t do it perfectly in our home. i have struggled mightily with what to say and how to say it. i haven’t always been a mom full of great answers or great advice or great amounts of godliness. but this picture from my daughter’s birthday last week, compelled me to put some of these thoughts to paper to encourage you. 

you are not alone.

i don’t know who you are or what you're going through … but i want to urge you to keep seeking Him and keep reminding yourself He has an amazing plan for your life. He does!

yes, indeed, high school is hard.

but sweet ones, God is really good at using the hard places for His holiness and your wholeness.
i know it's not easy, but trust Him.

and, with two sons, i suppose i should also say this isn't just a girl issue. it's different with boys, yes, but high school can be hard for them too. that's another blog post for another time!

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