My husband often describes me using two words. Mature and inappropriate. The first time he said this to someone else in front of me I was caught off guard. Then I laughed, then I thought, then I agreed. You see, this is a far cry from where I used to be, when I would be described as cold and angry, but now I’m free.

Free to be me.

I was forced to grow up into adulthood as a pre-teen. It was in middle school that I realized my childhood was filled with trauma, disappointment and sadness. Even in my adult years I dealt with anger towards God for allowing this to be my story. Why would He write such a terrible, hurtful story for a daughter He loved so much?

I’m not saying I know all the reasons, but I now know it was—at least partly—so that I could bring a little light and relate to all the life-changing events going on with my small group of middle school girls today. I am confident God’s purpose for me is to connect with these pre-teens. For they can see that I am mature enough to lead them, yet inappropriate at times which proves I’m human. I’m pretty sure this is why I love leading middle schoolers so much.

In fact, I am always surprised to hear (and see) some of the reactions from friends, family, and acquaintances when I talk about being in the lives of these middle schoolers. Apparently, middle school has a bad rap because I’ve gotten every look from “are you crazy?!” to “we need more hearts like yours”. But the truth is, I cannot imagine serving anywhere else. And I’m sure you feel the same about where you serve!

I have had the privilege of serving in many of our environments but nothing has ever felt more like home than middle school. Before I took the plunge into leading middle schoolers I spent a lot of time cleaning out my heart and leaning into God trying to figure out why these awkward little people broke my heart. I can remember coming home and crying after our first few new leader orientations. Why was I so scared?

Then it hit me.

I was so scared of leading these girls for the next three years because I knew God was going to bring to light that my middle school years were messed up.

I’m not saying that we all feel lead to serve in environments where we experienced trauma. But I am saying that if we all look within our hearts and where we serve, there was an area good or bad that God uniquely carved in to your heart. When He wrote your story it was to impact those that would follow us.

So how about you? Where are you called to lead?

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