Those of us that work with youth on a regular basis are an odd bunch. We actually like lock-ins. The goofy things that teenagers do tickle us instead of irritate us, at least most of the time. We get excited about fun games and food fights.
In many churches, and especially at First Baptist Church, there is a special variety of human being running around called the middle school girl. You see a fair amount of them around here these days, and even if you don�t see them you hear them. They squeal a lot. They talk really loud on their cell phones. And every other conversation is about some boy, and how hot he is, and on and on. I sit and smile, laugh a little bit, and tease a little bit too.
I have to admit that the late middle school girl phase in youth is one of my favorite stages in all of adolescence. Why? They are just so raw and honest. They are not quite at the phase where they are trying to be sophisticated and cool. They are truly in this in between land between adulthood and childhood at this point. So they start to think and act a little like adults, yet most of them still have their teddy bears and Barbie dolls in their room somewhere that they have had since they were little girls. They are still trying to figure things out and they are not afraid to admit it.
As a church we see the need to love and reach out to teenagers. That is a good thing. Yet, often times we do not open our eyes to see what they have to teach us.
One of the things that teenage girls have to teach us is how to live life and faith with passion. Teenagers are looking for something to give their passion, and their heart to. When the boy that they think is cute asks for their phone number they jump up and down for 20 minutes. And when they fall for Jesus, they give their hearts to him in the most beautiful, authentic way as well. We tend to lean toward restraint and propriety as adults. Middle school girls try this once in a while, but most of the time they just wear their hearts on their sleeves. When they need prayer, they ask for it. When they are angry they give you a dirty look, but it is not unusual for them to give you a hug 20 minutes later. They cry without shame. And they celebrate without shame as well.
As adults we tend to be more controlled and reserved. It may be necessary in some cases, but it is not always a good thing. Maybe sometimes we need to have the courage to live our lives and express our faith with the exuberance, awkwardness, and true beauty of a middle school girl. Passionate love for Christ. Now...THAT'S HOT.