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May 18

Embrace Your Need To Express Yourself

Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Tuesdays I volunteer at a local junior high.  One of my responsibilities is to help teens have a safe, rule-abiding and fun lunch.  I’m perfect for the job.

While it’s uncomfortable, even scary at times, I’m willing to express myself.

Expressing Myself

I love to help people feel safe, so yesterday I steered a big kid away from a smaller but more annoying teen.  I helped the big kid avoid a consequence for squashing the smaller kid, and I helped the smaller kid avoid a beating.   They both safely eat their lunch. Everyone wins.

While rule-abiding is not the first thing people think of when they think of me, I am willing to remind teens of the lunchroom rules.  Often times how it’s said makes a big difference.  “Please have a seat” is direct and polite, but it lacks wit.   While walking up slowly, yet obviously, and I’ll exclaim, “Well, this is where I say ‘Please have a seat.'” It gets an occasional smile and less eye rolls.

Confronting a grape thrower could involve drama.  Instead, a sly but direct confrontation often leaves teens giggling rather than escalating. After picking up the previously thrown grape,  I set it on his lunch tray and said with a smile, “If you’re going to throw food, you’re just going to have the be much more sneaky.”  I laughed.  He laughed.  No more throwing.

Unexpressed Thoughts

I often see teens flirt with one another.  Like me, in my teen years, many of the boys are so indirect, passive-aggressive or blatantly awkward when trying to get girls’ attention.  Yesterday, while confronting a boy for being rudely obnoxious toward a girl I knew he liked I said, in clear earshot of her, “Just tell her that you like her and stop annoying her.”  He blushed.  She smiled proudly.  Their friends roared.

Awkward communication skills are not exclusively for teens.  As the photo below shows adults, even older adults can be awkwardly understated and unexpressed.

When I saw this picture I felt sad.  Sad that these two people had so much to offer that they chose to leave unexpressed.  Life and age seem to have silenced them.  Cynicism shut their mouths.  They may sound like this;

There’s nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
Don’t count on being remembered.” 1

I see it every day.  Silent at the wrong times for the wrong reason.

I hear it every day.  Some people are remarkably crass and rude, and some things should be expressed less.  On the other hand, love, joy, kindness, goodness, sincere compliments, words of affirmation and appreciation and love should all be expressed more.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” 2

We want to express it.  Others need to express it.  We all need to hear it.  The world would be a better place if we did.

1. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

2. Colossians 3:14

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