Flying through mid-air across 50+ connected trampolines seems chaotic. There’s the landing, the rebound and of course the crowd of people all around! This is all before even trying any flips. In the midst of the excitement lies a certain peace as one floats through the air and defies gravity.
This scene is much like my first year as a Casa middle school Bible study leader which was marked by fun, excitement, chaos, the unknown, sometimes soaring, and other times learning to rebound. Over the course of the year as we grew and faced challenges together, a certain peace settled in alongside the maturation of the relationships. The relational connectedness with the students and the other leaders is what encouraged me to keep showing up from week to week, building trust with one another that is marked by consistency. Over time, we won the right to speak into the lives of these middle school young men as they navigate the daily obstacle course of life. Our solid team of leaders kept us grounded. The challenges kept us focused. Everything about it from the struggles to the achievements brought a certain peace, and contentment until it was time to rebound off that trampoline of life again!
Throughout the course of the year, we witnessed some students who were academically at risk and were acting out at school go through radical change. In one particular case, a teacher observed so much improvement that she felt prompted to email one of our leaders when one of our students made impressive gains in an area of testing.
“His teachers are so proud of him, “ the email read. “He was not in a targeted remediation group and did not receive any extra test prep. He earned that score 100% on his own. I honestly cried when I saw his score I was so proud of him.”
At our end of year celebration I watched students who had been motivated and challenged by their leaders. I saw students who were growing in confidence. I noticed young men who were taking initiative to help out. I smiled as I realized that these students will be back again next year!
As we build relationships and trust with students, we get front row seats to witness their growing focus and peace as they bounce through life’s obstacles. These young men are experiencing a real change. Walls are coming down. Hope is rising. This is only the beginning — we, both leaders and students, have much growth ahead of us. Next school year will come, the days will grow shorter and the challenges will come. We’ll all be there together, growing and learning as we defy gravity once again.