by Lauren Craft
Does anyone like me? The footsteps and laughter of second graders filled the playground, but I stood there with a void in my heart. My family had just moved in the middle of the school year, and I missed the smiling faces of my friends.
At recess with my old class, I invented a game everyone loved: I pretended to be a film director and cast my classmates as actors in my adventure stories. It made them feel like movie stars.
On my last day, my teacher seated the class down on the rug where she normally held up vocabulary flash cards. Instead of beginning a lesson, she announced that it was party time. A goodbye party for me!
With this new class, I felt like a bug crawling on the jungle gym. Everyone already had their circles of friends, though I tried to push my way in. When I asked one girl for her phone number, she wrote down a set of digits on my notebook. Then I overhead her say to a friend, “It’s a fake number.”
It wasn’t just the girls. During class one day, I asked the boy seated next to me a question about a reading assignment. He squinted, saying, “You gotta figure it out yourself.”
That was more than twenty years ago, and the scar has long healed. I’ve learned to be thankful for that time because it made my heart a little bigger. In future school years, when a new kid joined, I was always welcoming. At my job, I’m quick to invite new coworkers out to lunch. If I see a woman sitting alone at church, I gravitate toward her and introduce myself.
I know it’s not just me. God gives this character training to you, me, and everyone. And He often does it through trials, just like my move in second grade. Whether He’s the one that caused the hardship is rarely clear, but what matters is that He uses those sufferings to sculpt us into the people He wants us to be. He sees our life from beginning to end, so He knows exactly what strengths we’ll need to fulfill His plans.