My name is Margaret Dixon, and I am a volunteer at Calvary’s Southside FROG program. For those that do not know what FROG is, it is an after school tutoring program that helps kids with homework and provides them a safe place to be loved and to learn about Jesus. For most of my years volunteering there, I’ve worked with sweet, enjoyable, lively 2nd and 3rd graders. Then a few years ago, I was asked to switch to helping middle school girls. I agreed to do so but not without trepidation. I have a very clear memory of how miserable, confusing, awkward, and painful it is to be that particular age, not even adding in today’s social media, bullying, dysfunctional families, school shootings, and more. I was fully aware that I lacked the understanding of how these current middle schoolers navigate and survive these first tentative steps into adulthood, but the Lord is good and He equips those who He calls to serve Him, and much to my surprise, I quickly discovered I truly enjoy these budding blossoms of womanhood. I happily began my sixth year of ministry with this age group this September. Although I do enjoy this age, this past year I had one particular girl in my group that I was far from enthusiastic about, but the Lord used her to grow me and to push my husband and I toward more ministry opportunities through my experience with her.
For the sake of privacy, I will refer to this girl as “Y.” This past year was Y’s first year attending FROG, and from the moment she started, I knew it was going to be an interesting year. She was disruptive and disobedient every chance she got. I often found myself getting annoyed with her behavior and thinking that FROG would be a great deal more pleasant without her there. But, as a believer I’m called to love everyone, so I started to ask God to help me see Y through His eyes and to give me the patience I needed. And as God tends to do, He answered!
I felt God asking me to come alongside her. By alongside, I mean to care genuinely, to involve myself in her life
I began to notice that though Y challenged all adult authority, her fellow peers adored her. They laughed at her remarks, followed her lead, and sought her affirmation. She’s the oldest in her family with several younger step-siblings that are very close in age and who also attend FROG. She’s a protective mama bear where they’re concerned. She dotes on them and they clearly reciprocate those feelings. Though her grades are only average and convincing her to do homework was like pulling teeth, I think she is a very intelligent girl. She is a natural athlete and very competitive. Y has the potential to be a Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, or leader of armies like Deborah in the Bible. Lastly, punishment and admonishments were ineffective in correcting Y’s behavior. She has experienced them so frequently that she is inoculated to them. So I began to use alternate ways to work with her, and our relationship slowly began to get better.
I felt God asking me to come alongside her. By alongside, I mean to care genuinely, to involve myself in her life and to express words of praise about the positive and wonderful things I see in her. I have no clue where this adventure with Y, myself, and God is going. I do know that by the end of last school year, I had come to love this girl, who I often thought of as a “Warrior-Woman-Girl” and I want for her all the good things that can be found in Christ. I’ve continued to stay in touch with her via snail mail over the summer and I have visited her at home as well.
Through this experience of walking alongside someone who was so vastly different from us, my husband and I realized that in previous years of our faith journey, we have been members of groups that created their own comfortable bubble that allowed no one in except those who look and think like them. We’ve escaped those groups but now have begun to realize we are sweetly encased in another comfortable space in which we live in the same zip codes, share the same skin color, belong to the same political party, are already believers, are part of the same generation, and make similar life choices.
In an effort to increase our impact in a world in desperate need of Jesus, we’re opening our home up once a month to people who do not look, think, or act like us. We don’t know what it’s going to look like but we do sense His leading and peace. So I would ask that you pray. Pray for Y, for my relationship with her, for my husband and I and this new adventure, and for FROG. There is so much joy in serving others, and we are so grateful God has given us so many opportunities.