I picked my daughter from middle school and caught a glimpse of the hallway.
I peered down the sunlit passageway where lingering legs moved in shadows and felt my throat constrict.
My ancient mind recalled long hallways from my own adolescent years, floating up fresh into the corridor of my esophagus.
I remember hallways so foreign to me… outside the band room and the art studio… I feared crossing those thresholds because of the rejection I would find, having no idea how to blow a horn or pencil a bowl of fruit.
As my daughter emerged from the locker room and into a hallway where athletic kids dwell, I thought of all the students who bypass that space too. I thought of the rejection they have always felt in front of a ball.
I thought back to all the friendships I missed and all the people my own children will miss because we loiter at opposite ends of places.
As a new school year begins the pattern repeats itself. Year after year.
Decade upon decade.
Kids fear and avoid the unfamiliar just like I did. I’m glad I don’t forget.
Silently I pray for several things…
1) That girl no one notices. Will someone just smile and say, “Hi!” Please?
2) The loud fool who everyone notices because of his show, but who inwardly shakes with self doubt and confusion.
3) The teacher so set on rules and law at the beginning she forgets the stifling uncertainty her students feel in a caged room.
4) For the seemingly popular hot shots who live in their own form of isolation because it’s hard to admit when life still sucks. How can they voice lonliness or uncertainty when no one listens to someone who seems to have everything going for them?
I pray for all of us. We all wander down unfamiliar hallways, or dance around them altogether.
We all feel left out. We’re confused. We want to desperately find the hallway where our true soul was meant to dwell.
As adults, we still live in hallways.
The fitness club.
The church foyer.
Grocery store aisles where young mothers linger and search for a familiar face, longing for a moment of connection between early morning Cheerios and late night rocking.
Maybe our hallway is only found behind a computer screen. We feel safer there than face to face.
We yearn for those spaces that enclose us with laughter and unconditional acceptance, when the walls of our own home or friendships fail us.
No wonder social connectors are so popular! Instant hallways. But even there we are left lonely or jealous
I’ve counseled my daughter as school begins to remember new faces. I’ve suggested she seek out an unknown friend who just might prove faithful for a lifetime. But I also realize that as confident as my girl might seem, she too is still searching for her hallway. Children cling to cliques because at least they’ve tested its level of rejection and found belonging.
Who can blame them?
Especially when adults still model favorites.
This topic leaves me feeling desperate because I realize there is no hallway on earth that will fully satisfy our longing.
Every hall we create will let us down.
We also do a real disservice to ourselves and others when we begin to think we are the only one who can’t seem to find our true hallway.
Jesus, how do you want us to think about hallways?
Will there be walls or halls in heaven?
I can’t imagine there will be. Walls protect, hallways define. Where there is perfection there will be no need.
Jesus said He’s building houses for us, but what brings the separation of space for souls to dwell must be altogether different.
This is what excites me the most about heaven. No walls. No defining hallways. No set apart crowds, just a set apart Jesus who did such an amazing job at kicking down hallways when he walked this earth.
Today, as I think about millions of middle schoolers trying to find their way, I too feel like a school girl with pimples and insecurity. I feel for these kids! It’s not easy. I too still try to fit in with the crowd, but really I just wish we could all dwell in acceptance and not feel lonely or rejected anymore. I also know that the answer doesn’t lie in our crafted spaced. The answer is on the other side where there are no walls or halls.
Until that day, feel free to join me in this imperfect space. Flawed me welcomes flawed you. Linger. Find your locker and decorate it any way you choose.
What do you remember about the hallways of your youth? As an adult, do those same feelings still exist for you today?
Photo credit: Flickr