The New Girl

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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I am the new girl again: new to town, a fish out of water, standing at the doorway of a room of people who all evidently know each other. They are greeting friends, eating together, sitting in groups. I am back to feeling left out, lonely, and sad—the story of my life. Only thing is, this isn't junior high. I am 43 and a church minister entering a group of Bible study leaders.

We moved frequently when I was growing up—in my first, third, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades, and each new school filled me with dread. In each new town, my parents registered my sisters and me at the appropriate schools. Each time a lady from the office walked me down a long musty hallway to my new classroom. Lunch was the worst: walking into the cafeteria without knowing the system, looking for a place to sit. Over the years I tried different ways to cope . . . prop a book in front of my tray . . . plan ahead and ask someone if I could sit with them . . . approach a group of people and sit down or just sit by myself and pretend I didn't care. The best counsel came from my dad who said to look for someone sitting alone. There would always be someone even lonelier than I.

A few weeks after my daughter left for college this year, she called discouraged. She was the only one there who knew no one, had no friends. Surely she wasn't alone in that feeling, I said; the friends would come. I offered “new girl” coping ideas from my years of experience. A week passed before my daughter called again. At a new-freshman meeting, she said, a girl stood up to say she was lonely and had no friends. Like popcorn, people around the room spoke up, "me, too." Knowing that everyone experiences "junior high cafeteria fear" helped my daughter leave her comfort zone and reach out.

As for myself, I have learned that fear is worse than the thing itself. Now when the old stomach clutch begins, I know to pause, to breathe, and to pray. I remind myself how God has brought me through every scary situation. Pictures flash through my mind of tough, frightening, even horrible times; but I also see varying outcomes. There comes to mind a wonderful surprise, a new understanding, some lesson about trust, or hope found right in the mess. Other times, I remember mere survival . . . but even that encourages. For the life of me, I can't think of any time that didn't hold some meaning for me, then or later.

So I take another deep breath and straighten my shoulders. And I enter the room of new Bible study leaders, looking for the blessing I trust God has in store for me.