The gap between loneliness and friendship can be closed by something very small.
Posted in , Mar 4, 2015
I used to be a shy girl. Like, “Whoa! Where did you come from?” quiet. People didn’t notice me until I was right next to them. Don’t get me wrong. I had friends, but when it came to school, my teachers could rarely describe the sound of my voice. That all changed one day. All it took was one jellybean.
I was 7 years old, and my mom’s childhood friend and her family were visiting us from Tennessee. She had a son around my age. My mother arranged for him to visit my first grade class for a few hours on the day they were going home.
They were leaving at 10 a.m. so I had just enough time to show off my new friend to my classmates. Everyone crowded around him as he walked in the door with me, as if he were a celebrity. All the other kids talked to him, and because I had brought him, I was front and center, not my usual quiet, off-to-the-side self.
Toward the middle of the morning, my teacher announced we were going to play “The Jellybean Game.” In this game, students sat and, one-by-one, the teacher asked a question. If you got the question right, your reward was a jellybean.
Everyone sat in his or her assigned seat in alphabetical order. My friend sat next to me. Our teacher usually started at the front of the room and worked her way to the back. Since my last name started with “C”, I knew I would receive a jellybean before my friend left.
This was good, because as a token of lasting friendship, I wanted to give my jellybean to my friend. I wanted him to forever remember me as the girl who gave him candy.
Things didn’t go according to plan. Instead of her usual method of starting at the front of the class with the “A” last names, my teacher decided to start at the back of the class. I was upset.
My mom’s friend was going to be there in 10 minutes to pick up her son. There wouldn’t be enough time to give him my jellybean. I started crying–not a whimpering cry but a sobbing, loud cry.
The classroom was in chaos because of my out-of-character behavior. In the middle of all this, my friend’s mother arrived, and he left–without my jellybean. I was heartbroken.
As an adult, I still remember how I felt when my new friend left without receiving what I thought would be a sweet gift.
Today, I think about the one teen girl who may leave her classroom empty-handed without the sweet gift of a friend. Does your teen daughter feel lonely? Does she struggle to make friends? Here's how you can help her:
1) Remind her that she is a gift from the Lord. She is one of a kind, and He wants her to share her talents and uniqueness with others. He doesn’t want her to feel empty-handed.
2) Encourage your daughter to join a club or an after-school activity. Youth groups, sports teams, school clubs provide great opportunities to make new friends. If she feels uncomfortable going by herself, urge her to bring someone along.
3) Explain to her that there are many teens who have the same wish to make new friends but are too afraid to say the first hello. Plant the idea that she take the first step.
And as a parent, be encouraged for your daughter and receive His sweet gift of love and grace as you watch her walk out the door to change the world. She will make new friends and have rich experiences. All it takes it one small step.
I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35, NKJV)