I realized Joy went to church with me on Pentecost Sunday.
I sat with my parents at the special outdoor service, held in the local high school stadium. In the bleachers before it began, I shaded my eyes with my hand to see the stage. There was a girl up there. A girl my age.
I knew her, I realized with a jolt. We had PE together; her space was a row over from mine in the girl’s locker room.
Her hair always hung in lovely, soft curls; she had the kind of pale, vulnerable skin that wasn’t fashionable in Southern California. We were in the same grade, both on the honors track.
And, most remarkably of all for junior high, she was nice.
Seeing a kid I knew in church was a shock, like seeing a teacher in the grocery store. Usually, I was too nervous to go to Sunday school, each week I sat next to elderly ladies and belted hymns while my parents sang with the choir.
I didn’t mind. I was used to being alone. Alone was safe.
But that Pentecost, on the bright bleachers, I realized I didn’t have to be alone. There was a kid my age.
I tried to figure out what to do with that information.
Truth was, church was a new experience for me. I’d gone as a preschooler, but then for five years—hard years for my family—we’d stayed home on Sundays.
Now, I stumbled over the words to the Lord’s Prayer, wondered at the melody for the Doxology, and had no idea where any of the books in the Bible were.
Seeing Joy up there on stage, I realized there was more I didn’t know.
Specifically, what would it mean to have a friend in church? What would it feel like?
I’m over at The Mudroom today, sharing a story of the gift of friendship. Won’t you join me?
Image credit: Juliana Coutinho