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in Youth

Who am I? The Identity of a Middle School Student

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Middle school is a time of life like no other. When so much of life is devoted to school, some might be surprised to find that most of the academic information that middle school students hear has either already been taught in elementary school, or will be taught again in high school. 
So what does this mean? 
Some say that middle school is just a place where three years worth of the most emotionally unstable students are held in captivity. Of course, there is certainly some truth to that, but to say that middle school is a waste of three years could not be further from the truth. 
In reality, this system of educational repeat is done very purposefully. While middle school students are sure to learn a great deal academically, the real lessons that middle school is designed to teach are respect, responsibility, and collaboration. In essence, middle school students are learning how to function as one part of a whole. As they are learning all of this, a fierce need for independence and individuality is built in middle school students. With that in mind, these three crucial years are designed specifically to help students learn who they are; to help them learn their identity.

In Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Paul is saying that when we give our lives to Christ, this becomes our primary identity. We are loved by the creator of the universe and we live to know Him and to serve Him. That’s it. Our identity is that simple. 
It is misplaced identity that leads to so many struggles that middle school students face. When students, so desperate to find out who they are, place their identity somewhere other than in Christ, the results WILL be damaging. It is from misplaced identity that complex issues like bullying, gender confusion, and even racism can arise. 
It is only when our middle school students are able to see that their identity is found in Jesus and His love for them—not in athletics, academics, popularity, gender, or race—that they will find stability. 
When we ponder who we are and our definitive answer is to declare that we belong to Christ, we can find hope in every school assignment, every fight with a friend, every heartbreak, every challenge, and every up and down of middle school life.


in Youth

Are you Running?

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I have a two year old son at home named Oliver. Oliver is full of joy, and makes me laugh everyday. 

One of my favorite things to do is chase Oliver around our house. He runs with tiny steps and occasionally looks back (can be dangerous, I know) to make sure I'm still in pursuit.  

When I met Jesus, I was baffled by the truth of God's relentless pursuit. That despite my own brokenness and like Oliver, my tendency to fall often, God continued to chase me down, to the point of dying on the cross for me.
In John 20, Mary Magdalene runs to tell Peter and John that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. I can't imagine what is going through their minds as they run to the tomb where their teacher and friend had been laid. When they finally got to the tomb, they saw, believed and understood what Christ had been telling them all along.  
As we prepare for Easter, I pray that we would all run towards a deeper relationship with Christ in anticipation of His faithfulness and continued works in our lives. May we understand that while we run away from God, He continues in pursuit of us. And may we recognize that no matter how far we've run, we can always be found in Him.