“That seat is saved,” says the girl at the far end of the table. There are five empty seats between us, but I stumble on, heart racing, mumbling an apology. She does not look up again.
Do over: “I won’t be here long,” I reply, as I slide my tray onto the table and sit down. “I know you won’t mind my sitting here until your friends arrive, if they ever do.” I dig in, not even blinking an eye as I pull the latest best seller from my bag. My pulse rate is normal.
I stand in line to purchase a locker, glad that I am early. It looks close, but I should be able to avoid a bottom locker, which is hard to use due to my size. As I wait my turn, a group of cheerleader types approach. Ignoring the line, they call out to a boy two places ahead of me. Laughing and talking, they make a place for themselves in the line. I stare down at the books that I carry, hoping for the best.
Do over: “Excuse me, girls,” I say in an authoritative voice, waving my hand at the other wannabees in line with me, “but we were here before you, and I know that people as courteous as you won’t mind moving to the end of the line. It makes us so much more likely to vote for you when the Homecoming Queen ballots are distributed next week.” The girls freeze and look around at the nodding nobodies who are now memorizing their faces. They demurely offer apologies as they remove themselves from the line. We smile at them in a friendly fashion. (Right.)
“Hey, Big Mama,” someone I do not know yells as I climb the bleachers for my brother’s baseball game. I try to disappear, a physical impossibility,as I move to the far end of the seats. I make eye contact with no one and pretend that the heckler must have been talking to someone else.
Do over: “Well, hello there, Brainiac, “ I reply. “ It is certain that you plan to go far in life. What are you aiming at? Winning popularity contests? Becoming a mentor for anorexics? Maybe a stand-up comic? With your talent for observation, you should go far. I would forget politics, though, if I were you,” I finish disdainfully, as HE cuts his eyes away from me in shame, his friends laughing at his expense. I sit down among friends who welcome me warmly.
“May I sit in this desk?” a girl asks as she enters Algebra I. With oily hair and outdated clothing, she spells “Loser” as she stumbles toward the seat.
“Sorry, this one is saved,” I say, not making eye contact. She continues on, mumbling an apology. She slumps into a desk at the front of the room.
Do over, please God: “Sure, you can sit here,“ I answer as I stand to help her with the load of books she carries so precariously. “My name is Susan. Is this your first day?”
Gratefully, she collapses into the chair and gives me a winning smile. Her eyes become warm and open. The smile changes her wan looks, and I can see the potential for beauty that was hidden by her pinched face. Holding out her hand to me, she says, “I’m Wanda. It’s been a year, but my dad finally got a new job here, and we moved over the weekend. I am sooo tired, and I was dreading starting eighth grade today! “
Looking at my smiling face, she continues, “Maybe it won’t be so bad after all, if everyone else is as welcoming as you. Thanks for making my day.”
(Her day is not the only one made, please God. “Thank You for another chance to be the one You want me to be.”)
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matt. 7:12 NASB.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt. 5: 44, NASB. (Okay, so I am still working on this one…)
“Lord, thank you for loving me just as I am. Please help me to love myself; make me a blessing to someone else today.”
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