What a 9th Grader Taught Me About Courage (and Girls)

One of the highlights of my week is hanging out with a crowd of middle and high schoolers on Wednesday nights at church. The memories and experiences I have from my own youth group growing up were incredibly influential, and I love being with them as they go down the road I traveled not too far back.

Also, they’re a ton of fun.
Painfully awkward at times, but a ton of fun.

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My favorite conversation of the past year happened a few months ago when my friend Charlie (not his actual name, figured his friends may call him names if they heard this one) pulled me aside with all the urgency he could muster. Whatever he was trying to say, it was important and I needed to hear it right this second.

Expecting something serious or deep, I followed him as we stepped away from the crowd to a nearby room.

“Dude, guess what?!”


(Also not her real name.)

He was a hero! I threw my hands in the air and we celebrated with jubilant high fives, barbaric fist bumps and whatever else guys do when they’re excited about chasing girls. It was a true celebration of manhood and heroic pursuit. I was so excited for Charlie and how boldly he threw his heart on the line. Then I asked the most logical follow up question.

“Awesome, what did she say?!”

“Well, she said no. But that’s okay, I asked her out!

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

It just didn’t matter at all she had rejected his gesture. He didn’t seem one bit upset about it, because what actually mattered was he mustered up the courage to even ask. He took the shot.

And when it didn’t work (as is often the case when it comes to taking risks and girls), he celebrated the courage instead of mourning the failure. As I stood there, not sure what the correct response was, I was struck by the incredible perspective of this 9th grader.

Rarely (maybe never) is there a neutral option when faced with life decisions of any significance. At every turn we choose whether to travel the comfortable well-marked roads towards safety and normalcy, or the more mysterious paths plagued with sharp turns and switchbacks that ultimately lead to something better. A life lived with adventure, uncertainty and purpose.

Charlie threw his heart on the line, following the unpredictable road with immense courage. Girlfriend or no girlfriend, that is worth celebrating.

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