No, I did not forget to post today
A few items of interest. To me. Not to you.

Fifteen was dreadful

If I HAD to pick a moment in time when I became a Christian, accepted Jesus, turned into a goody two shoes church goer, however you want to call it- I could narrow it down to the first year my family lived on the base in northern Italy.

As I've mentioned several times before, and no doubt some of you are bored already, this was a Very Bad Year. At the time, it was a very bad year for me. Many years later, as I was having coffee with my mom and talking about The Old Days, I realized it was bad for everyone. My parents, my brothers and sisters, all the other people who moved to that base that year, the people who were already there and the Italians who lived nearby. Pretty much everyone living in that town that year could have used an open ended prescription for Prozac.

But I was fifteen and therefore solely focused on my own personal misery. In one summer I'd lost my best friend, my boyfriend, my social standing in school and the freedom to go places without my parents. So, for a fifteen-year-old, practically everything important. I was heartbroken to leave all of that stuff behind, but not for one second did I think I wouldn't be able to rebuild, that I wouldn't be able to make new friends and quickly be known for all the same things I was known for before.

The other day I was reading a blog that sort of made fun of the emotions and thoughts you have in junior high and high school. I honestly forget where I read this, but she was ribbing her junior high self for being so in love with her junior high boyfriend and how everything is So. Drastically. Important. when you are that age. I read it and I understood, but I also wanted to say, "It may be silly, but it's real." Like right now, I am sitting here completely and utterly mortified at how long and how forcefully I missed the dirtbag I dated for all of six months in ninth grade. But I am also tearing up, because I remember how much it hurt to say goodbye to him and K and how I didn't have anyone to take their places for the longest time. So yeah, it's really just a flash in time and the "love" I thought I felt at fifteen isn't at all like the love I have for my husband after four years of marriage and one baby, but to say it wasn't love is to invalidate, I think, everything I knew about myself at fifteen.

So yeah. It was an awful year because I was lonelier than I'd ever been in my life. The kids at my new school weren't like the kids at my old school and I didn't know how to navigate the new shark-infested social waters. People seemed to like me, but not enough to hang out with me and the loneliness was compounded by knowing what I'd left behind.

BOO HOO. POOR ME.

I began to pray. I had no idea what else to do. I was going to be stuck at this place until I graduated from high school and I had to survive. The only good thing was that it couldn't get worse, right? I prayed for friends. I prayed for something to do on the weekends. I prayed to stop missing my old friends so much. I prayed that my parents wouldn't be embarrassed of their homebound daughter who never got any phone calls. I was so ashamed of my failure, as I saw it, at making new friends. Every single night I prayed for God to give me a friend. How sad is that? INCREDIBLY PATHETICALLY MORTIFYINGLY SAD. Why the HELL am I sharing this with the Internet?!

I guess I have two points here. The first is that I think just about everyone living there needed God. That place was going through enormous growing pains, not to mention the stress of the mission (bombing the crap out of Bosnia) on the newly arrived families. There were two new elementary schools that year. People living closer to Austria (several hours away) than the base. A ton of high school kids who weren't allowed to drive. Kids who were getting in all kinds of trouble because they had nothing to do and parents managing their own stuff. The first real friend I made was a girl who'd had her ID card taken away the year before because she'd been involved in a drug bust. Some of us prayed and sat in the chapel to wait out lunch break. Some of us smoked pot at discotecas and got themselves kicked off the basketball team. Because things like pot were never an option for me (have you met my parents?) and because K had schooled me and I was already so inclined, I chose God. I honestly did not see another way through. 

The second thing is that I believe God answered my prayer. The next year I met the girl who became my next best friend. I learned that to make friends at school is to join a sports team. I was known again. It never became a great place for me. I never loved it. I never felt as strongly about those friends as I did about the ones from the old school. I was still aching to graduate and move away with every bone in my body. But I made it. I had people to eat lunch with. I had things to do on the weekends. I had fun. And I never thought this was coincidence, or the natural way of things, or because of my own social skills or anything like that. I really truly believed that God had heard my desperate cries in my teeny tiny bedroom at night and he wasn't going to leave me alone.

A lot of times I think the only reason I have so many wonderful close friends right now is because I prayed so hard for them when I was fifteen. Sometimes I think God was so tired of listening to me he decided to set me up for life.

Are those reasons I can give anyone else for believing in God? Or being a Christian? Obviously not. They only work for me, and really, only years later when I can look back and see what was really happening. I prayed and prayed and prayed. It didn't seem to be working for a VERY long time, but it was the only thing I could think of to do. So I kept praying, and then things got brighter and suddenly I was a believer. That year was so bad, you guys. So bad. I don't even want to tell you some of the things I thought about that year. But then it was over. And things were slowly but constantly getting better. And I couldn't think of any reason for that except God answering my prayers.

So. I am going to publish this without editing, because the baby is demanding to be picked up from his nap and because if I read it again I probably won't publish it EVER.

Comments

Jen

I moved all the time when I was younger. I counted once and I went to something like 13 different schools growing up. Not having friends was by far the hardest thing about moving. And not having anyone to eat lunch was always the worst part about having no friends. I remember when I moved in eighth grade, I asked someone in every one of my classes to explain these "confusing" report cards to me, just so someone would talk to me. ("In my old school, we just had As and Bs, I don't know what all these weird number grades even mean!")

Megan Elizabeth

Thank you.

For me, the really bad year was thirteen. Thank God a person is only thirteen once. The strange thing is that looking back now that I am Old and Wise, there was actually nothing wrong with me. But when you're thirteen angst doesn't need a rational explanation.

Salome Ellen

I teared up. And I lived in the same HOUSE for my entire school years. God was faithful to you, and you were faithful to Him. Beautiful!

Lisa

Wow. I'm amazed you were able to go back there long enough to write about it. I have an overall good feeling about junior high and high school, but I would NEVER. GO. BACK. Most of my nightmares involve the helplessness and victimization that I did occassionally feel in high school, and that tells me that it wasn't my finest hour. Much happier with my life now. Much. happier.

Maggie

I love this post. And it's real, you know, it's not just a psychological construction...He does actually hear us when we cry out to Him. Anyone who has doubts on this should consult: my sister and my beautiful little niece.

blog nerd

holy gee, is that age like the WORST for EVERYONE? How can that be? Because from my perspective, I was completely miserable while EVERYONE else in God's green earth was perfectly peach.

For me it was really 16. Junior year. Oy that fall was a frosty fall. I too lost all my friends but I hadn't moved anywhere. I found God with all my heart that year, too.

I found God through marble board crazy person notebooks and fine tipped pens.

I think I really would have gone over the deep end if it weren't for writing and God. Writing to God, actually.

Great post.

Stefani

I remember my Mum telling me that your teen years will be filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. So far she has been right. Although my adult years have been filled with far more joyous experiences (meeting my husband and the birth of my daughters) and far deeper grief (the death of a parent and family illness), time and wisdom has served to temper and gentle the intensity of my teenage-self. For better or worse I more truly understand the meaning of, "this too shall pass."
Thank you for a heartfelt post.

Shelby

Great post. I'm really glad you didn't have a chance to edit it, or consider not posting it.

I remember praying for friends too, at the beginning of my sophomore year of college. The idea (of asking God for something like friends) never occurred to me until someone suggested it, but doing it brought me the best, most wonderful lifelong friends. God is so good!

E.

I'm glad you published this post. For me it was when I was 13 and we moved. Horrible, horrible times at school and I was terrified to go to my church youth group and possibly experience more of the same. Fortunately I went to church and made great friends. I know God got me through junior high and made my high school experience mostly enjoyable.

carrie

What a beatifully written post, Maggie. I really, really could identify with it. 15 was my worst and most painful year ever. Looking back I can't believe the things that upset me so much did, but the pain that I felt at that point was so very real and seemed to take over everything else. I think 15 is such a tough year. My husband always laugh when people say that the teens are the best years of your life. He says "if those are the best years of my life, then someone kill me now." So true. This is *SO* much better for me! Even if I do have to work and can't sleep when I want to. haha

Leticia

15 was a horrible year for me too. Both of my parents were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver and we had to move cities, change schools, etc. I'll never forget when my sister would drop me off in the mornings and I would be waiting outside the school, standing by myself with kids all around me. When you wrote, "I had people to eat lunch with", I totally got that....I always worried about eating lunch by myself. Thanks for posting this.

ellen

This comment is a bit belated, but I just wanted to thank you for your honesty. I can SO relate to this post--I moved when I was 15, too, and it was a Very Very Very Bad year. I, too, learned to turn to God in that time.

I loved what you had to say about how even though some of the things that you cared about so intensely are mortifying to think about now, to dismiss it would be to invalidate those years. (Hope I'm not butchering what you wrote--probably should've just copied and pasted.) Also, I SO hear you about people liking you, but not enough to hang out with you.

I'm grateful for the reminder to remember God's faithfulness throughout my 15th year. It's amazing how alone you can feel in the middle of something, but how looking back it's clear that He was there.

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