Finding the courage for change

joshua 1-9

My daughter wove through the line of families walking into the middle school building.  She left me behind so she could hurry ahead to join her friends.

By the time I made it through the front doors, she’d already flitted along into the auditorium and found a seat way in the front for the Middle School Orientation.

I sat in the back.

Several people asked me that night whether I was okay.  I think everyone is waiting for me to have an emotional breakdown about my oldest daughter leaving the elementary years behind.

I just try not to think about it, that’s all.

Yup, I’m totally fine!

But of course, when you’re sitting in the middle school auditorium, listening to the middle school principal and teachers, and looking at slides about the middle school schedule, curriculum and after school activities, you do actually have to face facts.

Middle school is coming my way.

Obviously, my child isn’t too concerned.  She wasn’t frightened or lost, nervous, insecure, out of place or afraid.

And I was all of those things in middle school.  Those were nightmare years for me of insecurity and feeling lost.

I’ve taught middle schoolers before and they seemed like a whole lot of drama tossed in with a little bit of narcissism and a heaping dose of silly (topped off with lots of smelliness).

But here we are at middle school and my daughter seems excited, happy to be with her friends, and ready for the new.

So, maybe it’s my daughter that’s different…or maybe middle school has grown a lot friendlier and gentler over the years….either way, as I watch her that night, I feel reassured about her.

I’m still a bit worried about me, though.

The truth is this whole middle school thing reeks of change, and I’m tempted to grab the nearest clothespin and run for the door.

My kids have been at a school we love and had teachers we know and adore for five years.

When I walk into the office, I  know them and they know me.

I know the behavior systems and the reading logs.  I know the homework procedures and the cafeteria lines.

I know the books in the library and the special programs and the general schedule for the school year.

I know the bus route and the bell schedule.

And, I’m comfortable here and quite happy in that comfort.

Who wants a new office with new people, new teachers, new kids, new after school programs, a new schedule (that is WAY too early in the morning)?

She has to have gym clothes and lockers.  She has to take electives.  She has to function on an entirely different schedule in an entirely different place than her sisters who are still at the old school doing the old things.

I feel the change pulling at my muscles, stretching them.  They are taut, tight, stiff and reluctant.

I am afraid.

I am resistant.

I don’t want to change.

In Girl Meets Change, Kristen Strong writes:

We all have the opportunity to turn our tight places into prayer spaces. When change shoves us to our knees in dark places, we are in the perfect posture for lifting up our souls to heaven.

Instead of shutting my eyes tight and hoping change just leaves me alone, I’m invited to transform this into a prayer space.

I’m invited to bring the unknown to Jesus, all that uncertainty, all that fear.  I’m invited to trust that He already knows, He’s already there, and He’s with us all the way.

That’s what He promised Joshua, Moses’ protege, who spent years tagging along after Moses and now stepped into those massive shoes of leadership.

Moses was the only leader the people had ever known.

Now Joshua was in charge.

And Joshua wasn’t going to continue in the same tried-and-true way.  He stood on the threshold of the Promised Land, where he’d teach a wandering people how to establish a nation.

God told Joshua

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

So, I begin here with this prayer space.  I print out the middle school teacher roster and pray through the names.

I pray for my daughter.

I pray for the change.

I pray for the change in me, for the courage and strength I need.

Because even though I’ve never been there and don’t know what it’ll be like, God has and God does, and He will help us with what’s ahead.



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