I spoke at my old school's 8th grade chapel this morning. I've known about this for months, yet I waited until this week to really polish up my talk, which I thought was going to be a beefed-up version of a talk I did for the elementary kids earlier in the year. But when I tried to fix it up, I couldn't seem to do it. All these other thoughts--about how they're about to go into the big bad world of high school, how so many of them have been in this small Christian school for their entire school lives, how some of them, even after all the Bible memorization and chapels, still aren't Christians--kept invading my head as I'd try to work on that talk, and it just seemed so inconsequential when they were facing such huge changes. So finally, last night, I wrote a new talk, styling it like a prayer. "God, you know how I'm supposed to do this 8th grade chapel Thursday morning? Well, it's Wednesday night, and I still don't know what to talk about..." Then I devoted a little time to hashing out all the fears and concerns and desires I had for these kids, some of whom I feel rather connected to as they were in my very first class, and laid it out as though I was asking God to tell me which topic to pursue for the presentation. It was way shorter than the talks I usually do, and even after I was finished with it I felt like it was a cop-out. But that's all I seemed to have, so what was I going to do?
Well, God did His thing and it turned out incredible. First of all, the worship set was longer than usual, 5 songs, and the teacher that led it, Doug Harrison, chose the most awesome songs and brought the kids from fun, upbeat worship into contemplative, soul-seeking worship. Then I got up and almost lost it. My emotions have been on ultra-high lately, and between that worship set, the knowledge that my little babies were going to high school, and my fragile emotional state, I had to fight not to burst into tears for the entire ten minutes of my talk. (Actually, there was a rather substantial pause between my opening, "Dear God," and the next line, because I couldn't get myself together.) But I really felt like God was super-charging my words, and that it was going really well, and all was great until the closing line, and then I lost it again.
But then something cool happened. I just started talking. All I could say at first, in a strangled whisper as my throat closed with tears, was "God loves you." And then words kept coming, mostly reiterations and restatements of things I'd said in my talk, but some new stuff, too, and while I don't know if it was my words or the fact that I was sitting there in front of them with tears streaming down my face, I know I definitely had their attention. Heck, I think some of the teachers even got a little teary-eyed.
I wrapped it up somehow; I don't even remember what I said, but when it was over the principal, a really stellar guy, told me it was the perfect thing for them to hear. Some of the teachers told me that, too. I don't know if it really sank in--these are 8th graders, you know--but I know God did something, and as embarrassing as it was to sit in front of them and weep, it's a small price to pay if it planted a seed in someone.
And so we come to the end of the blog…
11 months ago