At Pit Stop (middle school youth ministry) we?ve been going through a curriculum based on the movie To Save a Life. I?d highly recommend the movie (for more information about the movie click here). Throughout the series we?ve been working with students to help them see themselves (and their peers) the way God does. Not as loser, dork, ugly, fat, ect. It?s been a great series so far and has really stirred up some meaningful discussion.
I wanted to share with you a powerful story I shared with the students last night. It?s from the To Save a Life curriculum. They got it from the book Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli.??
A young woman named Margaret spent decades battling depression and anxiety that were traced back to a horrible day in school when a teacher, frustrated with her tardiness, made her stand in front of the room and invited all the students to come up to the board and write something bad about her on the chalkboard. The kids were ruthless. They wrote things like “Margaret is ugly!” “Margaret smells,” and “Margaret is stupid.” All twenty-five students went up to the board and wrote these hurtful things. This event inflicted wounds that Margaret found difficult to heal. She battled depression, discouragement, and constant anger. Finally she went to a psychologist for help. She spent two years meeting weekly with the counselor, but finally they reached the end of their sessions.
The counselor said, “Margaret, I know this will be difficult, but just to make sure you’re ready to move on, I am going to ask you to do something. I want to go back to your schoolroom and detail the events of that day. Take your time. Describe each of the children as they approach the blackboard, remember what they wrote and how you felt–do this for all twenty-five students.
In a way, this would be easy for Margaret. For forty years she had remembered every detail. And yet, to go through the nightmare one more time would take every bit of strength she had. After a long silence, she began the painful description. One by one, she described each of the students vividly, as though she had just seen them, stopping periodically to regain her composure, forcing herself to face each of those students one more time.
Finally she was done, and the tears would not stop, could not stop. Margaret cried a long time before she realized someone was whispering her name. “Margaret, Margaret, Margaret.” She looked up to see her counselor staring into her eyes, saying her name over and over again. Margaret stopped crying for moment.??“Margaret, you left out one person.”
“I certainly did not! I have lived with this story for forty years. I know every student by heart.”??“No, Margaret, you did forget someone. See, he’s sitting in the back of the classroom. He’s standing up, walking toward your teacher, Ms. Garner. She is handing him a piece of chalk and he’s taking it. Margaret, he’s taking it! Now he’s walking over to the blackboard and picking up an eraser. He is erasing every one of the sentences the students wrote. They are gone! Margaret, they are gone! Do you recognize him yet? Yes, his name is Jesus. Look, he’s writing new sentences on the board. ‘Margaret is loved. Margaret is beautiful. Margaret is gentle and kind. Margaret is strong. Margaret has great courage.’”
And Margaret began to weep. But very quickly, the weeping turned into a smile, and then into laughter, and then into tears of joy.??(From Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, pp. 55-56)
??What a beautiful picture of what God does for each of us! How has Jesus rewritten your story???