When I was in middle school, back then called junior high, I had a fleeting moment of courage, when I stood up for someone and risked it all. Her name was Carol Plalonski (I have slightly changed her name but it sounded pretty similar) and Carol was the “new girl.”
Not the prettiest girl, Carol was tall, rather clumsy and plain. As I recall, she had a slight curve to her back and her shoulders slouched forward and well, Carol didn’t seem to worry herself about the really important things in life like boys, flavored lip gloss, blue eye shadow and mascara.
Almost from the moment Carol walked into Jefferson Junior High, she became the target for all pre-pubescent angst and torment. Kids would tape words on her back and she would just lump down the hall while everyone pointed and laughed. Oh, how I hated seeing her with the words “DOG” and “WOOF” affixed to her. I seethed with anger and felt entirely helpless but what could I do? I had my own problems! (See self-explanatory photo)
It was scary because if I did something then everybody might turn on ME and then I would be the source of scorn. But one day, I mustered up the courage and said “enough is enough” and as Carol walked down the hall with one of those words on her back, in a moment of brazen anger, I ripped that nasty message of her back. Whenever I think of myself as being a wimp, I summon up that memory of taking a stand, fighting for the honor of another person and taking a risk.
My middle OS has been doing something similar and today I was deeply blessed to receive a message from a dear mother who wanted to let me know that my son was a fine young man of God. She sent this to me on facebook so now I shall forever use that message as the reason I need to check my facebook 800 times a day, but I digress.
In typical, yet disappointing 9th grade fashion, some of the guys in my OS’s class are pretty rough on the girls. Countless times my son has come home and told me about the insulting comments his peers say to the ladies in class. One time, a guy ticked Aaron off so badly, Aaron smacked his binder into the guy’s nuts which I believe must have made quite a statement.
Recently, another freshman girl, Lauren (not her real name) stood up in class and articulated her concern about all the high school drama and tension. She announced that something had to change. Then Aaron, with the teacher’s permission, stood up and addressed his classmates. He challenged the guys in the class to “step it up” and start acting like “real men.” I only learned about this after the fact when Aaron came home and said he had a cool story to tell. He hadn’t planned on doing that but I guess he had his own “Carol Planonski” moment.
Now he and his friend Zack have begun a freshman Bible Study on Wednesdays. Boys that previously sat outside the classroom and chided the kids, actually attended this week. Aaron’s charisma and transparency with his own struggles are making a difference. This week when a classmate began teasing one of the girls about her really curly hair, Aaron turned around to the kid, looked him dead in the eyes and said, “Andrew, shut up!” Normally I do not condone those words but I believe, in this instance, they qualify as “words aptly spoken.” (Proverbs 25:11)
This mom wrote me to say that her daughter is amazed how the Lord is leading through Aaron and Zack. Her daughter can’t wait for the Wednesday Bible Study and it is showing her that God can use just one person to “change the tide.”
As our family prepares for Easter Sunday, I can truly say that it is a Good Friday. To God be all the glory and honor and praise.