It was an ordinary day in our tiny high school. The clock ticked, pencils scratched, and homework was given. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Suddenly, math class hit. The teacher hovered around a desk, shuffling papers and a textbook onto the surface. I couldn’t see what she was doing at first until she moved. Suddenly, a new face popped out from behind her. His face was solemn. He was quiet. He looked uncomfortably out of place.
I smiled over at him, but nothing. It was his first day at a new school. I’m sure that he was terrified. A few years ago when I was the new kid, I knew exactly how he felt.
Everything just seems so different, so scary, so “I-want-to-go-back-to-where-I-came-from-I-hate-it-here-please-let-me-leave!” I knew his face. I read his behavior. I’m sure that right about now he is at home thinking about having to go back tomorrow to a school where no one knows his face.
The new kid is usually an outcast, unless you are super popular and talkative, then you fit in right away. He doesn’t seem to be one of those kids. No one talked to him. No one acknowledged him. No one even seemed to pay attention to him. He is in several of my classes. I observed this in all of them. I tried to smile over at him whenever I could, but it’s hard.
It’s hard to put yourself out there to a person you don’t know. You don’t know how they will react. You don’t know how to talk to this person. You don’t want to scare them!
My last class… he sits in front of me now. I tried to talk to him. My mouth opened…nothing came out. My voice squeaked slightly, but words were anywhere but in my mouth. I’m sure that I did not help his loneliness. My teacher said that we were going to pair up in groups. I almost asked him to be in mine… before my friends called me over to be in theirs. There wasn’t any room left for another person to join. I watched him sit in his desk, alone, waiting for someone to ask him. Someone did… the teacher…. she asked him to go to a group.
I feel guilty. I know that I wasn’t the person that God would want me to be. God would’ve wanted me to say “hi”.
“Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7
At my church, every Sunday morning we sing this song whether we have visitors or not:
“There’s a Welcome here, there’s a Welcome here, there’s a Christian welcome here!”
It’s a short and sweet song, but it is extremely meaningful. I remember the first time walking into church and hearing that song. It made me feel like I belonged. It made me feel as though others cared about me. It made me feel, well, welcome!
Jesus always loved those he encountered. He knew them not, but he loved them immediately. He healed them, talked with them, and just welcomed them into his arms. With Jesus, there truly was a welcome there. We are to be like Jesus. We need to welcome with open arms, like Jesus did.
Today, I admit that I failed at doing this. There is always a tomorrow, though! Tomorrow, I pray that God will show me the way to welcome the new boy. I pray that God will show me how to show him that there is a welcome here, at our school. I know that years ago when I was new, knowing that I was welcome made me feel like I was right at home school. ☺
This doesn’t just apply to new members of your school, church, or work. It applies to our everyday life, even with those that we know. Say “good morning!” or just simply smile. A little bit of love and happiness goes a long way. I feel that a smile is one of the most welcoming tokens that you can give.