friendship spiritual

Dear Sixth Grade Girl: On the Subject of Friendship

11:34 AMHeather

Today, I write in honor of my God's Girls group. Those amazingly bright, kind, loving and curious sixth grade girls who fill my house every other Friday and who fill my heart all the time. This one's for you. 

Since we are looking at friendships this week in our time together, I thought I'd offer some "bonus" thoughts. This is my letter to my favorite middle school girls--and to the ones I'll never meet.

Dear Precious Sixth Grade Girl,

Listen, this middle school thing is hard. I just want you to know that it will feel turbulent and awful and the end of the world. Friends will be unkind and moody. And so will you. These years of jumping from childhood to teenager are hard on the body, mind and soul. Scientific research proves this is true, so it's really not just in your head. It's hard stuff learning how to make this transition. Not to mention all those things you don't want to speak of about the hormones and body changes. But they are happening. And chemicals in your brain get off balance. 

This is just hard work.

Which is why in these middle school years, you will often feel your friends are mean or irritable. It's why you will snap at your parents and roll your eyes. But, listen up. That's no excuse for bad behavior or treating others poorly. When you feel that rising within you, it might be a good time to get away quietly or listen to music or just let it be known kindly that you need some space because you're having a hard time.

Please remember this as the truth. Middle school can feel like a ton of drama. There will be painful days. There will be lots of whispered, "Did you hear what she said about so-and-so?"

Don't engage in the drama. Truly. Try to rise above it and walk away. Try to guard your heart from the drama and the hard days and the people who seem to always leave you feeling badly about yourself or who make your day worse. Realize that those are people with whom you can seek to live peacefully, as far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18), but those might be friendships where you don't invest yourself too deeply. At least for now.

Let me console you by saying that it will get better. 

So hang tight! 

It all gets better. I promise you. And you can hold me to it.

It feels like forever right now. But, before you know it, you will have all grown and matured and be enjoying life in a way you never anticipated.

Ask God to give you grace and strength. When necessary, run to your safe places. Run to your mom to hold you close and soothe you. Run to your dog for snuggles and love. Run to your room for refuge and a good cry. 

And mostly, run to the God who made you and this entire universe. Use your hard days to be a time to talk to him all about it. Train yourself to let the hard times become the God-seeking times. It's a habit that will carry you through the rest of your life. The best part is this: God will never tell any of your secrets.

Next, I want to remind you to consider carefully what true friendship is. Think about what makes a good friend. Make a list even, and continually work to develop those characteristics in yourself.

Think about those people with whom you can be your goofy, crazy self. THOSE are the people where you want to intentionally invest your time. Appreciate those "safe places to land" and work to build those friendships.

On that note, be aware that friendships, like the weather, go through seasons. This will be true for your entire life. Even as a grown-up.

There will be friends with whom you are very close as you are on the same sports team or in the same classes. Then, as that changes or other things change, the friendships might become more distant. 

It is hard when friendships change. Just like it can be a hard transition to the hot summer weather or the early dark skies after daylight savings time. But, seasons are part of life. So, when friendships change, attempt to appreciate the season you had there, and then look to the new season. Look for new friendships. Always be aware of friendships you would like to cultivate and grow. Look around you to see the people with whom you are crossing paths and connecting with right now. This might be YOUR season to grow a deeper friendship. Continually ask God to show you where new friendships might begin. 

Reaching out to others is a huge part of what Jesus asks of us in this life. He came from heaven to reach out to us. He wants us to go out of our way, even when it's not comfortable, to reach out to others. 

Jesus met needs. He spent time with the lonely. He looked for the people who were hurting. He poured out the love that his Father had given him into the people who were dry and thirsty for it. 

Ask him to help you do the same. 

Even if there are friendships that you know aren't really building you up. You can still choose to be aware of others feelings and to do the kind thing. 

On that note, a huge part of "doing the kind thing" is to be aware of excluding others. When seasons of friendships change, as they will in middle school, people get left out. Cliques form and people band together closely. It's okay to have those "inner circle" friends. It's okay to have those friendships that you are intentionally building. 

But it's not okay to make others feel excluded. 

Don't talk about the sleepover in front of the girl who isn't invited.

Don't flaunt the concert you are all going to together when the friend who isn't going is sitting at the lunch table. 

Don't post all over social media to only boast about your tight circle.  Remember to use social media to also encourage and uplift those who are following you. Social media is a platform given to you. You can use it to be a blessing to ALL to look at it.

Don't forget that there are times when you feel lonely because someone wasn't thinking about your feelings.

So, be aware of how others might feel. Be mindful and sensitive. Find common ground to discuss when gathered together.  Be inclusive when you sit around together or ride in a car together. 

Save the conversations about the activities with your BAE or your BFF's when it's just you guys together.

In the words of my very wise high school senior friend, Terah, on the subject of friendships-- "We are all broken and sinful. But we cannot create sin in the sacred environments of friendships by intentionally or carelessly being wounding or insensitive or mean to others."

Here's one last tidbit, precious Middle School Girl. These years will feel like shifting sand. Because they are. One day, you are giddy and happy and all is well. The next, your life feels like it's falling apart. 

One day, you feel loved and included and accepted and you're all-- "OH, #blessed because I have the best BFF's EVER!" The next, you feel hurt and wounded and left out and lonely. 

Guess what? Everyone does. Even those that you THINK have it all together. Even those whom you envy. Even those who are the bully or the mean girl. Everyone has their private battles. There may, in fact, be some big reasons behind mean behavior. You don't know if that girl making fun of you spent last night listening to her parents fight. Or if that girl who is constantly trying to outdo you like life is one big competition is actually hiding huge insecurities. 

So, it's always best to treat other people with the assumption that they have their own private pains and wounds and insecurities. Let's treat each other with care.

And in all of it -- in all of the hard days and the tearful times and the lonely,  left out moments -- hold tight. Cling to Jesus. Run to him. Run to your mom and talk over the hardest things with her instead of with your friends. She was once your age and she survived. So she may have some good ideas to share with you about the hard things.

Make it your rule to never say anything about someone that you wouldn't say to their face. This will help stop the gossip habit. And it will save you much heartache. 

Remember that you all have bad days and your friendships change like the seasons. So, guard your heart, don't be surprised by some hard things in friendships because people have "mean moments." 

Choose to live at peace with all people, and be prayerful about the friendships you want to grow. Do your part to make things right when things go wrong. Be quick to listen, slow to anger, quick to ask for forgiveness, and quick to likewise forgive.

And thank God that he made all things right by offering his son Jesus to die for you so that you could have a forever relationship with him. 

Remember that he made you wonderfully and he made you unique and you were literally loved to death by him. Remember how priceless and loved and worthy you are to the Lord God Almighty. Don't buy any lie or deceit that tries to make you feel less. Tell those feelings who's boss by reminding them that God thought you were worth the highest price.

Know that the One who made you, who knows all of your days and the number of hairs on your head-- He will help you through the hardest times. Always. Without fail.

Oh, Middle School Girls. This is a hard season. Someday, you will try to offer advice to others in the same season of life. Someday, the worst of it will be a distant memory and you will think about all the laughter and good things and fun of those years. Someday, you will pick through the memories and be able to laugh at some of the bad ones and relish the good ones.

You've got what it takes, darling precious Middle School Girl. Because your Big God is on your side! You are a beautiful masterpiece. And God is continually making new and wonderful things out of your life. He is writing your life story, day after day after day. He has the pen in his hand and he writes beautiful stories that usually have twists, turns, and crisis points. But there is a never-ending happily ever after at the very end of all our stories when we choose to follow Jesus.

Just hold on for the ride. 

You are loved more than you know by your God. And by your parents. And by other people in your life, just ready to help you along. 

Sweetest girl, this too shall pass. Your very hardest times will come to an end. Your best and happiest days will be over. It all came to pass. Let's hold tight to Jesus along the way and remind ourselves that the One who holds the universe and keeps the earth in orbit is also holding us in his righteous right hand. 

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