Monday, March 28, 2011

Why I Love Rebecca Black and Friday

Remember how awesome middle school was? It was a strange combination of awkward and playful. There were those times when being goofy with friends was everything I looked forward to. And then there were those times when I didn’t feel like I fit anywhere and I felt mostly awkward.

There is a playful goofiness that comes with being 13. And it is awesome and weird all at the same time. In my ministry with middle schoolers, I see this all the time. The outside world looks at them and shakes their heads wondering what in the world is going through their heads. We adults often look at what they do and label it as dumb or stupid. And we are wrong.

Just the other day I was visiting the home of one of my students, and she and her friend had decided to make a slip and slide on her hill with a tarp and a snow sled. It sounds like great fun, except that it was 40 degrees outside. And windy. And they didn’t have shoes on. It was so easy to label their efforts as “dumb” or “stupid.” But you know what? They were having fun. They were being creative. Their attempt wasn’t as successful as they would have liked. But it was good. It was that awesome combination of awkward and playful.

Rebecca Black is one of those awesomely awkward and playful 13 year olds. She just happened to record a song and video (find it here if you have been living in a cave) that was equally awesomely awkward that has become an internet and iTunes hit. The songs’ lyrics and video have been judged as dumb and stupid. And because of her success the teen, whose parents paid $2000 to the record company to record the song, is also being judged as dumb and stupid.

I love Rebecca Black and Friday because she epitomizes life as an eighth grader. I prefer to celebrate the awkward and playful nature of 13 year old awesomeness. I want to see more “successes” and “failures” like Rebecca Black and my young friends.

Because me and my young friends, well, “we, we, we so excited!”

And it is pure awesomeness when that strange combination of awkward and playful come together in a middle school student in various creative ways.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Three Year Old Makes Pancakes

A couple of weeks ago my boy woke me up with loud noises coming from the kitchen. Wanting to make sure that he was okay I rushed from the bedroom to discover that he had dragged a dining room chair to the kitchen counter. He had grabbed the box of pancake mix from the cupboard (one of the loud noises), pulled the carton of eggs out of the refrigerator, reached into a different cupboard to pull down a mixing bowl (another loud noise), and was using a ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop up the powder.

He had decided to make pancakes.

By himself.

The only ingredient he was missing was the milk. But I don’t think he was finished retrieving all of his ingredients. He even told me that he needed “two cups of powder”, which was exactly what the recipe called for.

I was impressed.

I love it when my kids start doing things on their own. It means that I have one less thing I need to do for him. It means that he is one step closer to being able to function independently as a member of our society. It means he has the confidence to live life outside of my watchful eye. Because, as his parent, it is my job to teach him how to live in this world.

I remember the joy my parents felt when I started driving. They no longer had to drive me places, and they were able to take advantage of having an extra driver in the house to help them run errands. Independent acting children are able to make a contribution to the family, and beyond that to their community.

When I was coaching high school distance runners, our most successful seasons came when the student athletes had a leadership role in preparing our workouts.

In my ministry to young people, I have seen their spiritual growth explode when they were able to do the work of the ministry themselves.

If you have children, what are you doing to give them permission to act independently? Is your home a safe place for your children to fail so that they can learn what it takes to succeed?

If you work with children, are you giving them opportunities to do big things? Are you giving them a safe place to fail so they can learn what it takes to succeed?

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Hear Voices In My Head

I hear voices in my head.

It’s true. They may not be actual voices, but they still have a tendency to speak up when I encounter their favorite subject in my life. When I run, I can still hear Coach Clancy’s voice in my head cheering me on or challenging me to run harder. My parent’s voices are often the loudest and rightly so, as they are the people who have had the most influence in my life.

One thing I am learning about the voices in my head is that, like all of us, they are not always right. Often they are right, which is how they became significant voices, but sometimes they are wrong. And it’s okay not to listen to them anymore. Because it is just a voice. Not the actual person.

More importantly, I’m learning to differentiate the voice in my head from the person I think belongs to the voice. It is so easy to move from “that thought is wrong” to “that person is wrong” and begin to make judgments of the person behind the thought. That is not fair to the person who may no longer think that way anymore and would never say now what you think they said then.

The truth is the voices in your head no longer belong to the person who you think they belong. They are now your thoughts. They do not belong to your coach. They don’t belong to your teacher. They don’t belong to your dad. They are yours and yours alone. You cannot blame and judge that other person for your thoughts.

If you do not like the thought, or if the thought is wrong, then your mind can be and should be made new in Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”(Ephesians 4:22-24)

My prayer is that I would judge the thought, not the person, according to God’s righteousness and holiness and that I would allow my mind to be made new.

Who do you blame for the voices in your head?