A huge part of my life has been mentoring middle school girls in my church youth group this past year. When I began volunteering in the youth group, I secretly hoped I would be placed with the middle school girls. I love middle school. I love that age, those experiences, the attitude...all of you. But I didn’t use to...my goodness God has done some work in my heart.
Going into my Junior year of high school, I went to church camp and got that “spiritual high” like everyone else. One evening during a worship session we were all encouraged to ask God what he would want us to do with your lives. I was super excited. Ready to do whatever I was asked (well, if I wanted to). I prayed “God, show me your plan”. The same term kept playing in my head “middle school ministry”. Yuck. I despised middle schoolers. I thought they were annoying, emotional, filled with drama, and horribly awkward. I sooooo did not want to do that. So naturally, like the stubborn girl I am, I said politely to God….”please try again Lord”. I did not get a different answer. That should have been a sign, I should have understood a clear message, but I just decided to stick a pin in that conversation. I was so jealous of my friends who felt called to mission work. I truly thought I could also be called there. Maybe I would get to travel the world and feed the hungry, hold children, teach english...but no. Instead all I heard was middle schoolers.
When I got home from camp, I really wrestled with the thought of having to hang out with 12 year olds. My brother was in middle school, I was not sure I wanted to be back over there. But finally, I sent the email to the middle school pastor at our church. It went a little something like this…
“Hi, I’m Krystian. I’m a junior in the high school ministry. I feel like God wants me to volunteer in the middle school ministry. I don’t really want to, but I’m trying to follow his plan. Do you have room for another volunteer?”
Why he let me lead a small group I will never understand. But the very next week I was walking into the middle school room, looking for the table of 7th grade girls I would be spending time with. It was awkward at first. I didn’t know what to say. I let the other leader do most of the talking. But something eventually happened… there must have been a moment when our hearts clicked. I can’t put a pin on an exact time, but somehow we adored each other. I started to truly care about their lives, their math tests, their parents. I wanted to know how their band concert went, if their brother was still sick, if they apologized to their mom yet. My heart was invested, something I didn’t think was possible. Those girls became the highlight of every Sunday. We began meeting outside of group, messaging each other on Instagram, and becoming close. My heart broke on graduation day two years later. I was moving to college, and they were moving on to high school. Not only that, but a few of them moved states. Our little group was over. Those girls are juniors in high school now… I watch their posts from time to time, wondering if they even understand how much they changed my life.
This past summer I felt God’s call again, go back to middle school ministry. I didn’t think I could love middle school girls anymore than I already did and God surprised me again. My new group has had breakthroughs, cry sessions, and times when were completely distracted. We laugh, we hug, we take “squad pics” in the hallways, and we act ridiculous about boys and school dances. They are my joy every Wednesday. They have no idea how much they mean to me.
I am a sinner, I disagree with God’s plan constantly….but my goodness following a call to love on these girls was something I did right. I’ll never regret these moments. I’m so excited for the day when these girls are all young women and we meet up five years from now to discuss how college is going. I can’t wait for the first time one calls me to say she’s met “the one”. And I hope I get to be part of those moments. But for now, I am content in the lifegroup room, giggling about boys and our big transition to high school. God is so good.