As I walked down the hallway of my junior high school, I held my books tightly to my chest. I was on my way to my first class and I wasn’t looking forward to this school day.
As I stepped inside the classroom my eyes gazed the room looking for my best friend, Diane. Looking around, I noticed the different groups of kids all sitting together in their normal spots. There were the popular kids, the jocks, and the smart kids. As I looked around I felt the normal ache of not fitting in. Finally, I spotted Diane. Luckily there was a seat open next to her.
“Hey, Diane,” I uttered softly.
“Hi, Rachel. You’re a little late. I was wondering if you were coming to school today,” Diane replied.
“I missed the bus and my mom had to bring me to school,” I said.
Diane and I stuck together like glue. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of classes together. I’ve always felt as if I don’t fit in anywhere unless Diane is with me. Living in the poorest neighborhood in the community hasn’t helped at all. I absolutely hate riding the bus home because everyone sees where I live.
Diane seems to fit in everywhere. Diane is outgoing and everyone seems to like her.
“Hey Rachel, do you want to go to church with me tonight?” Diane asked. “We’re having a party in our youth group.”
“Well, I’ll have to ask my mom, but I’m sure she won’t mind,” I replied.
“Ok, call me after school and let me know if you can go. I’m sure my mom won’t mind picking you up,” Diane said.
“I envy Diane,” I thought.
Diane has a close family and they go to church together. I, however, come from a broken home. I always feel so accepted when I spend time with Diane and her family.
First hour was over and I slowly made my way down the hall to my next class, which was Speech. I dreaded second hour today because today was the big day to give our oral speeches. My stomach turned flip flops as I walked down the hall and finally reached the class room.
“I hope I’m not the first one picked to give my speech. I don’t like being the center of attention. I’m afraid that my speech won’t be as good as the other students,” I thought.
“Rachel, it’s your turn,” the teacher said.
I was so nervous my papers shook in my hand. As I stood in front of the class I almost felt as if I would faint. I made it all the way through my speech and had never been so glad to have something over with.
Class had come to an end and I was gathering my things to leave. As I made my way toward the door I heard my teacher, Mrs. Fleming, call my name.
“Rachel, would you come here for a minute, please,” Mrs. Fleming called.
My stomach turned into knots.
“Yes, Mrs. Fleming,” I replied.
“I just wanted to tell you that you did a wonderful job on your speech today,” Mrs. Fleming said.
“I did?” I replied.
“Yes, you did. Keep up the good work.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Fleming,” I said. I smiled as I turned to make my way out of the classroom.
“Wow! Mrs. Fleming thinks I did a good job on my speech. It feels good just to be told I did a good job,” I thought.
The day had come to an end. I felt good. Just that one comment from Mrs. Fleming seemed to make the rest of the day seem easier.
I had to call my mom at work to ask if I could go to church with Diane that night. As I dialed the phone I hoped my mother would say yes. After a moment my mother made her way to the phone.
“Mom, Diane asked if I could go to church with her tonight. Is it okay if her mom comes to pick me up?” I asked.
“Ok, honey, just be home as soon as church is over. I will see you then,” my mother replied.
Even though I was a little nervous about being around a bunch of kids I didn’t know very well, I was actually looking forward to going to church with Diane.
The doorbell rang and it was Diane. “Hey Rachel, are you ready to go? We’re going to have a great time,” Diane said.
For some reason, I really believed we were going to have a great time.
We arrived at church and made our way to the youth room. The room was filled with kids laughing and talking and everyone seemed to be having lots of fun. As Diane and I entered the room a group of kids noticed we had come in.
“Hey you guys. Rachel, it’s really good to see you. We’re glad you could come,” Brian said.
“Thanks,” I replied.
Brian let us know there were refreshments on the table at the back of the room and to feel free to enjoy them.
I felt so welcomed, like the kids really were glad I was there.
We all talked and laughed and had a great time together. I enjoyed the refreshments and the fun games we played, but more than anything I enjoyed just feeling like I fit in. For the first time in my life I felt like it didn’t matter where I lived or that I came from a broken home. I felt accepted just the way I was.
As the evening came to a close, Kevin, the Youth Pastor, calmed the crowd. “Has everyone had a good time tonight?” Kevin asked.
“Yes,” the crowd responded with enthusiasm.
“Let me see a show of hands of those who brought someone with you this evening,” Kevin asked.
Half of the group raised their hands.
“It’s really important to be an example of God’s love to those around us. One way of doing that is inviting others to church with you. Jesus said that greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. As Jesus laid down His life for us, we are to follow His example. Thanks for coming everyone and I hope to see you next time,” Kevin said.
As Diane and I made our way out of the youth room, I turned to Diane and said, “Diane, thank you for being my friend and showing me that God loves me just the way I am.”
Diane smiled and said, “God does love you just the way you are, Rachel, and so do I.”
As I lay in my bed that night, I thought about the events of the day and smiled. As I drifted off to sleep, I prayed, “Lord, thank you for loving me as I am and for giving me such a good friend that has helped me find Your love. Amen.”