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Theresa had always looked forward to the first day of school, but this year was different. Due to her father's recent job change, she and her family had moved across the country to a new town and a new neighborhood. They had barely had a chance to meet the people next-door. It was hard enough to leave the friends she'd known for thirteen years, but right before school started? Did her parents really expect her to adjust?
She didn't even want to get out of bed. Getting up meant going to school, and that meant groups and cliques that were already well establishedand that she wasn't a part of. She didn't know a soul. She had no friends. Who would she talk to? Who would she hang out with? The thought of walking through the halls and not seeing any familiar faces terrified her. Maybe she could be sick. No, her parents would see right through that one, and she'd still have to face her first day at a new school sometime. It might as well be today.
While trying to decide what to wear, Theresa caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Of course, today would have to be a bad hair day. This day is not starting out well, she thought to herself. But on with the inevitable. After a quick breakfast, she grabbed her things and headed down the street to the corner where the bus would pick her up.
In the distance, she could see three girls laughing about something. As Theresa got closer, the girls shot a brief look her way and then continued on with their conversation. Finally the bus arrived. Theresa stepped on and sat alone. The ride was bumpy, and it seemed like an eternity until the bus pulled up in front of the school.
Theresa climbed off the bus with no idea where to go. She tried to blend in as best she could and followed the other kids inside. Her old school was much smaller. This one was a sea of lockers. How would she ever figure out where hers was? After quite a lengthy search, she found itnumber 454. She dropped off some of her things and began the trek down the long hallway to first period, trying desperately not to bump into anyone.
She had made it through the first three or so hours. The classes weren't so bad. She could simply find a desk and sit there. The teachers pretty much just went over class rules and grading policiesno serious learning was expected the first day. But now it was lunchtime, and the question of where to eat was looming large. The groups would form quickly, as friends were eager to catch up with one another after a long summer. Theresa was keenly aware of the fact that she had no one to catch up withno one to sit with at all. She wondered if she had ever reached out to any of the new students where she used to go to school. Now she was the new kid, and it was harder than she had ever imagined.
She found a place alone in the corner and sat down with her lunch. Just as she started to eat, she saw three girls approaching. They were the girls from the bus stop.
“Do you mind if we join you?” said the one in front.
Mind? Please was more like it. “Not at all,” Theresa replied.
“This is usually where we sit for lunch, and we just thought that since we saw you at the bus stop this morning and since you are sitting here now, it must be fate or something,” said another. “Maybe we're supposed to be friends.”
“How's your first day?” said the third, a redhead.
“OK, I guess,” Theresa replied. “We just moved here three days ago.”
“Where are you from?”
“Tennessee, born and raised.”
“My family moved here from Missouri last year. I remember how hard it wasstarting school and not knowing anybody. I just wanted to crawl into a hole at lunchtime. But over time I met a few really nice people, including these two.”
“We haven't even introduced ourselves yet,” the first one said. “My name is Rachael, and this is Mariya and Megan.”
“Hi, I'm Theresa.”
And with that, new friendships were formed, and Theresa's day was looking up. They chatted about their classes and giggled about which boys they thought were cute. They reminisced about their summers, each sharing their stories of suntans and various adventures, basically talking their way through lunch.
“Maybe we can pick this up after school,” Mariya suggested. “I've got to get to class right now. Let's meet outside the cafeteria at the end of the daythat means you too, Theresa.”
They parted as each went to her next class. Theresa kept going over the random encounter in her head as she sat through fourth period. Did that really just happen? She actually had fun at lunch! Who would've thought that her first day would actually turn out to be enjoyable? It almost seemed too good to be true. Megan, Mariya, and Rachael were really niceand thoughtful.
At the end of the day, Theresa stopped by her locker to pick up her belongings and was the first of the girls to arrive outside the cafeteria. She wondered if the others would remember. But right then, Megan came up behind her and gave her a hug.
“Congratulations, you made it through the first day!” Megan said.
“Thanks, congrats to you too,” Theresa said with a smile.
Rachael and Mariya weren't far behind, and the four friends headed out to the bus.
For Theresa, the ride home was quite a bit different from the bus trip that morning. She now had people to sit with and new friends to talk to. The time went by much more quickly than the ride to school. The girls talked and laughed the entire way back to their neighborhood. They exited the bus and began the walk to their respective houses. One by one, they said their good-byes and exchanged quick hugs followed by a “See you tomorrow.”
Living the farthest from the bus stop, Theresa was the last one home. She walked in the door with a smile. Her mother asked how her first day went. “It was OK,” came the reply. But Theresa knew it was far better than just OK. Over dinner she told her parents the storyhow she'd started off dreading this day but ended up meeting some new friends and genuinely having a great day.
As she crawled into bed that night, Theresa thanked God for bringing the new friends into her life and asked God to help her be the kind of friend who reaches out to others. She was truly grateful for the effort the three girls had made. They didn't have to do it; they could've simply gone on with their day. But they chose to reach out to a stranger, and they made a huge difference in Theresa's day. She closed her eyes and smiled again. She couldn't wait for tomorrow.
Table of Contents1. Reaching Out
2. Sharing Love
3. Facing Fears
4. Taking Chances
5. Supporting Friends
6. Shaping Memories
7. Making a Difference