Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mean girls - the reality show

Mean girls. My kids think I need to watch the movie. They say I'll love it. I say I don't need to watch the movie; I lived it. The reality TV show version.

It took me years to love myself and to believe that I was lovable and worthy because of the actions of the most popular girls around me in middle and high school. And I think it was even more difficult to reconcile because it was a Christian school. My little heart believed the lie that if Christians didn't think my life was worthwhile, it must not be. That if even the teachers didn't step in and confirm my gifts, then my peers must have been correct; I had nothing of value to add to the Kingdom.

Of course these were all my perceptions and they came from the twisted mind of a young girl who just wanted to fit in. I attended schools not unlike everyone else, where the expectations and determinations of value had been set in place for decades. You were supposed to be pretty and smart. Our women's sports teams were top-notch so being athletic was a bonus. And because of our faith tradition which valued four-part singing, a great voice was included in our particular mix of worthiness. I didn't fit into any of them.  Creativity, being a voracious reader, sewing, and volunteering with disabled kids after school didn't fit the qualifications of student of the year for students or teachers.

I'm embarrassed to admit how many years it took me to stop writing the school's annual fundraising campaign on my calendar just so I would remember not to answer the phone that week. One year I forgot and after a lengthy conversation with a former classmate who feigned deep friendship and interest in my life just so she could convince me to donate money to perpetuate the class system, I never again forgot. (And then we moved and I might have accidentally forgotten to give them my new contact information. Oops.) Let's just say I was well into my 30s when I finally found healing and whole-heartedly pursued the God of my past, present, and future. When I knew whose I was and where my identity was found. When I finally understood  the concept of having Genesis 50:20 vision: As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. When I could see that my peers also came from a place of brokenness and of wanting to belong. When I could see at least a glimpse through God's eyes and that those years of feeling unacceptable gave me a desire to speak life to those who also feel unacceptable. When I connected the dots from volunteering with the disabled to earning a degree to better teach and reach them. When I started to see how everything truly does work together for good; for the good of many. When I saw how I, too, would likely have been sucked into popularity and devaluing others had I been beautiful, athletic, and musical.

So when any of my children find themselves in the reality show of Mean Girls, I have to watch myself. I have to be careful that I don't respond out of my own past hurts but out of my true identity and healing. Several months ago I signed HopeAnne up for Track and Field camp and Monday evening was the first session. I didn't expect any trouble for my very social runner. When she came home with a frown, I was confused. She went on to explain that there were some girls who, for whatever reason, decided they weren't going to treat Hope with respect. She reported that they would whisper about her behind their hands and make comments about her within earshot. Knowing myself and knowing that Hope can be very sensitive, and can at times be the one to make another feel left out, I decided to commit this to prayer before having a discussion with her.

During my prayer time, God gave me these words: "Beautiful. Beautiful in my eyes. Protect. Love. Love fiercely. Pray for those who persecute you. Love. Love your enemies. Give. Joy. Run. Bless. Change of heart. Care for people. Special." Continuing my prayer, I was encouraged to use this opportunity to remind Hope to love and care for people, even those who we perceive as disrespectful to us. I didn't want Satan to use this to discourage Hope from running (Although there seems to be a theme here - last year it was undiagnosed asthma and now it's mean girls? Really, Satan? I think this girl is supposed to run and someone's scared!). We talked about being kind to the girls instead, encouraging them and complimenting them on their running. I reminded her to pray for them.

And when she came home from the second session on Wednesday, she was all smiles; God had answered our prayers for that day in a way that we couldn't have imagined: HopeAnne not only made some friends that night but the girls who had been so mean? They weren't there. They had a church activity.

Go figure.

And you know, every time God answers my prayers and adds something a little extra on top, I see Jesus standing to the side, smiling with that smile that says, "See that? Surprised you again, didn't I? Be careful that you don't forget."

My Jesus smiles.

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