It’s a Jungle Out There

Do you remember high school? Of course you do. It was either the best time of your life or the worst (I’m guessing probably the latter). Maybe it’s just girls (as a recovering feminist I still grit my teeth when I say type that), but everything in high school is a big deal. Wake up with a zit? Big deal. Don’t have a date for prom 9 months in advance? Your social status is donezo. Get in a fight with your best friend and not talk for a year? (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience) That’s about as accurate apocalyptic predictor as you’re going to get. So what makes high school so difficult? From what I can tell, though it does get easier, we also get better about covering up our emotions – and sins.

Let’s think about it. Tell me you don’t get a little nervous walking in to a party where you don’t know anyone – remind you of high school? Me too. I actually walked into a high school cafeteria (coincidentally where I saw my first fight and arrest) when I was in college and I still felt some of that tension. 700 kids who didn’t know me and probably didn’t notice me still had power to make my stomach turn a little. Why is this? Why, if we are created to be in relationship, do we struggle to be in relationships?

Or my personal favorite: the backhanded compliment, southern Christian style. This one is easy to recognize, it always begins or ends with “Bless her heaaaart” For example, “Her collarbone is showing in that frocked blouse; she must have been raised by Satan-worshipping parents. Bless her heaaaart.” See, easy as that! Take any snide, cruel remark + “Bless her heaaaart” (or “no offense” and “just saying” for younger generations) and voila! You now speak Christianese. Is this really any different than caddy teenage girls or the anxiety, shame, and anger felt by any one over the age of 7 who has been hurt by a cruel comment?

Unfortunately, we get better at hiding our emotions, not letting anyone get to know us, and twisting our jacked-up-ness into positives. Feel free to use phrases such as “guarding my heart,” “being honest,” and “don’t want to be a burden.” Trust me, I’m the master at all of these. By not letting people get to know me emotionally I also prevent people from speaking into my life and calling out sin. (there’s a good Christian phrase – when was the last time you heard a Wiccan say: “I really need someone to speak into my life“?) Do I trust people enough to change, even if I disagree? Is there someone whom I trust more than myself?

I have to thank a special group of girls for revealing this to me. Amidst all of the “It’s not personal’s,” the “I’m only trying to help’s” and my own self-righteous rants I realized that it is personal. We are all walking wounded, trying to survive the jungle that we knew formerly as the school cafeteria.

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