Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Than Enough

I’m kind of consumed with the start of school this week.

Office Depot loves me. And tonight, Famous Footwear is going to love me too.

Don’t even get me started about Target--we’re BFFs these days.

But amidst all the rushing around, buying new clothes, making sure we have all the necessary school supplies, there’s a certain bit of angst in our house these days. It’s called middle school.

Maybe it’s called junior high where you are. I grew up going to junior high, but my kids have gone to a middle school; I have yet to understand the difference. Different curriculum? Different set up of classes? What is it? Personally, I think the phrase “middle school” kind of softens the blow somehow. Makes it seem like a natural progression to the next phase of life rather than a waiting-for-high-school kind of thing.

Maybe that’s just me. It probably is.

One thing I do know, however, is that middle school or junior high or whatever you want to call it, is just about one of the toughest times for a girl. (I can’t speak about boys here because I don’t have one. Feel free to comment away about the boy-aspect of middle school.) I cannot tell you how many people I’ve talked to who have said that their junior high experience was so terrible that it’s the reason they chose to work with junior high students at church. Or others who said it affected their future career choice. Or others who just stay away from middle schoolers at all costs.

Seriously, it’s a rough go.

I’m currently going through middle school for the third time with my own girls, and each one has handled it differently. One seemed to breeze through middle school, only to tell me later that she hated every minute of it. Who knew?! Certainly not me. Another withdrew a bit, probably trying to ward off every cruel thing another person had said to her. Self-preservation becomes an art in middle school.

This time around is different still. We’re more concerned with our appearance. We’re straightening our hair and buying clothes in new and different stores. We’re much more concerned with the opinions of others.

And it’s this last aspect that had me on my knees today. Or walking, which is my preferred prayer stance.

I have always told my girls that I don’t want them to be known as the “smart girl” or the “athlete” or the “musician” or fill-in-the-blank. I would be much happier if the other kids at school think of them first as “the kind girl” or the “friendly girl” or, best of all, “the girl who really loves Jesus.”

The outward stuff just isn’t important. It’s the inward stuff that will shine through in the end.

But, you know what? You really can’t tell that to a junior high girl. Oh, you can tell her, and the sounds you are coming from your lips might reverberate around in her head a little bit, but there’s something that just makes them not hear it. Really hear it.

And so you have to come up with lots of different ways to say the same thing which is, “Just be yourself. Be the kind and loving person I know you are, and other people (the right people) will be drawn to you.”

Unfortunately in middle school, that just doesn’t register a whole lot. And so this morning I was praying for my girls, especially that sweet middle schooler with a whole bunch of angst about stuff that really doesn’t matter, and God somehow broke in through my mumbling and had me pray this:

“God, please help her to see that you are enough.” Just that. Enough.

Today I want my precious girl (all of them, really) to know more than anything that her clothes, her hair (as gorgeous as it is), her outgoing personality, even her talents in the classroom . . . none of it will ever be enough. Because there will always be someone to come knock her down a peg, or someone who feels like it’s their business to put her in her place, or someone who just gets a kick out of being cruel. All of the outward stuff will never be enough to make her feel good about herself.

But Jesus will.

Today I am thankful for a God who knows my daughters.
A God who knows when they sit down or stand up.
A God who knows their thoughts.
A God who knows when they go out and when they lie down.
A God who is familiar with all their ways.

These verses are loosely paraphrased from Psalm 139, and they bring me a lot of comfort. As a parent, it’s great to know that this God knows my daughters better than I do. He knows what’s best for them, and He even knows their mistakes. He still cares for them, watches over them, and loves them deeply.

Later, the Psalm goes on to talk about how God’s works are wonderful—that means you, junior high girl! About how God knew each and every day of our lives before we were even born and how He planned them all. And about how precious is each and every thought God has about us.

That part amazes me. Every thought God has about us is precious!

So on those days when it seems like we need the opinions of others to make us feel good about ourselves (Who are we kidding here? I have days like that too.), we can remember that God thinks highly of us. And that is enough.

He is enough for junior high. He is enough for high school. He is enough for college. And beyond.

More than enough.



  1. Amen! That's a great message, no matter how far removed we are from middle school, Shelly.

    I always wanted to be known as the pretty girl. But I wasn't. The smart girl, yes. But not the pretty one. Funny how that made me so sad back then.

    The busses from the other schools all convened at my middle school so everyone could switch and get on the right bus. (I don't remember why or how this happened, but it was a very small town, so it's not as chaotic as it sounds.) One day, when I was in 7th grade, a little boy probably 6 or 7 years old, stopped me and asked me to tie his shoe.

    No big deal. I tied his shoe.

    But my civics teacher happened to see it all happen, and he thought it was just incredible. He teased me about it the rest of the year, and I'm still not sure why he did that. Maybe it was the fact that middle schoolers in general AREN'T nice.

    Your daughter WILL be known as the kind girl who loves Jesus. I just know it, from everything you've ever written here. And until then - or in case someone makes fun of her for that - YES, God is more than enough for middle school!!!

  2. Thank you, sweet Mary! I love your story, but cannot for the life of me figure out why a teacher would tease a kid for tying another kid's shoes. Argh!

  3. Isn't it funny, too, how they can be so different at the same ages. My junior higher, too, is much more concerned with her hair and appearance than her sister was at that age.
    And of course your post reminds me of a song-- Enough by Chris Tomlin.

    "All of You is more than enough for all of me."

    We sing it at our church and I always connect it with material things but have never really thought of it as much with the emotional connotation.

    Thanks for your great writing!

  4. I've been singing that song in my head all day, Linda. So true! And thanks.

  5. It is a great reminder, Shelly, and thinking of all the ways we can teach our kids that God is enough.

    Blessings on your school year.


  6. I read this yesterday, Shelly, and resonate so much with it that I can't even figure out what to say in response. There are a million stories I could tell you. Or I could share my own concerns for my 5th grader. And maybe I will tomorrow : ). But for now, I didn't want to go without saying thanks for voicing my desires. It is very helpful to me as I walk this journey with my daughter.

  7. It was indeed the toughest parenting stage for me by far. My daughter was excluded and ostracized - I spent so much time in prayer those years. The amazing thing is how faithful God has been to her and blessed her with truly awesome, supportive, Christ-following friends now. I do think that process helped her refine who she chose as friends, and for that I'm very thankful.

  8. I'd love to hear those stories sometime, Jennifer. We could compare notes. :)

    SOR, it is a refining process, which is why I hang in there and suffer through it (and my my daughters suffer through it too). I just keep praying that what comes out when it's over is GOLD.

  9. I have a boy beginning middle school (7th grade) and it's been one wild ride. We've been in school for a couple of weeks now and that first week of school were not short on drama. Every single morning we fought (yelled) over something. One morning after a particularly intense argument over, of all things, PE clothes, he got out of the car angry, not looking at me, ignoring me calling after him "Jesus is better! Jesus is sufficient! Jesus is enough!"

    I know it's a time of transition, for us both. I pray, like you, for my boy to know that Jesus is sufficient and that He is everything.