A memory from my youth has been bouncing around in my head the last few weeks when I go to write to you, so thinking today is the day to share.
When my dad retired from the Air Force, we moved off the base for a short time and then to Louisville.
I split second grade between two new schools. One in Nebraska and one in Kentucky.
And to top it off for some reason the school in Louisville was being shared that year with another so our classroom hours were far from normal.
Being a new kid at an Air Base is not unusual. Everyone is eventually a new kid. It’s the way it works.
So attending a school where everyone was established was hard…
but eventually I began to feel like I had friends and “belonged”.
By the time I got to third grade, I had finally settled in and made friends.
Towards the end of the year, a new ‘new kid’ came.
She was very different and apparently easy to pick on.
As I remember, she was from the deep south with even more of a drawling accent than these Kentuckians.
She was a fussy dresser and more than a little bit spoiled. With all of this, she became the target of much classroom humor, and I was suddenly on the in-crowd.
It was a relief to be included and not excluded.
I am not sure the degree to which I participated, but at some point my teacher pulled me aside and told me that she knew that I knew what it was like to come to a new school.
She asked if I would please be a friend to this girl and make her feel welcome.
Let me tell you…for a “people pleaser” there is nothing quite as stressful as being stretched between fitting in with the crowd and obeying the authority figure.
I do know the authority figure won the day, and I made my best effort to befriend this girl…who truly was not easy to like…but that is beside the point.
My family ended up moving to another town at the end of the school year and whoever I thought was my friend or the popular kids or whatever is all a blur beyond the lesson learned about kindness.
We are in the midst of a cultural climate right now where the norm is below the belt jabs and humor.
From late night talk shows to commercials; from social media to political debates…the goal is to have the best one-liner that zings someone good and makes people howl with laughter.
And God calls us aside…and He says…You all know what it is like to be an outsider, right?
He says….You know I called you out of that mess into My Kingdom…out of dark and into light…so that you would extend kindness and compassion. You belong to Me…be different from the crowd.
He has called us into the Great Belonging ….so that we would invite others in.
I think God has been prompting me to remember this time in my life when I forgot for a while who I’m supposed to be.
He let’s me remember how easily I can fall into the crowd; how prone I am to take the low road if left on my own.
In the midst of all the mud-slinging going on around us, we are called to be different.
Let’s be people of Grace. we are called the People of the Cross….
who follow a leader who used mud to heal, not wound <3