by Heather Thompson Day
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
It was 7th grade, and the final field trip of the year. The junior high was off to Sixth Flags Great Adventures, where small children can spend a years’ worth of allowance on one soda pop and a hot dog that’s not even kosher. I should have been ecstatic to get on that bright yellow bus that would drive me to fantasy land. There was only one small problem: I was in the midst of a mean girl mob and was public enemy number 1.
I hung out with 5 or 6 of the prettiest girls my small private school had to offer. Their parents had pools and boats. I wasn’t the prettiest, or richest girl in 7th grade, but I did know how to swim. I weaseled my way into the friend group like the trained KGB agent I am. My year was filled with slumber parties and tan lines. Everything was going perfectly until it wasn’t. My friends decided that I was no longer allowed to sit at the cool kids table, and expelled me faster than I could adjust my training bra.
It all went down the night before the field trip. I am not sure if they planned it that way intentionally. Perhaps they wanted to really add insult to injury by not only breaking my 7th grade heart, but also making sure I wouldn’t get my hands on that overpriced soda. Surely no reasonable twelve-year-old girl would still go to an amusement park with zero friends, when every rollercoaster requires two passengers per seat.
They were wrong. When I showed up and loaded on that bus, they looked like they had seen a ghost. I wandered the park alone that day, and sat next to strangers on rides. I held back tears while standing in long lines, and forced a smile during lunch eating my meal for one. My day sucked, and I still have vivid memories of how painfully lonely I was. That said, I made a decision when I was twelve years old, that I try to remember today: in life, you have to get on the bus.
There are always going to be buses filled with jerks who want you to fail. There are always going to be judgmental, hurtful, spiteful people who smile to your face, but whisper behind your back. There will always be situations that take you outside of your comfort zone, or make you feel like you are a fool for dreaming. But trust me on this, you still have to get on the bus.
The truth is, sometimes validation from other people won’t ever come. Sometimes it’s not our turn. I never got an apology from my mean girl brigade, and none of them seemed to miss my presence in the group. I don’t have a fairy tale ending about pushing past fear, or learning forgiveness. But I can say that if you get on the bus, if you do that thing that you are terrified to do, that makes you feel vulnerable and inadequate, you will learn something about yourself. You will learn that who we are, when it isn’t our turn, is more important than who we will be when it is.
Matthew 10:29-31 assures us of this. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The Lord sees us. Our cries and inadequacies are not too small for his notice.
Scripture says that Joseph was refined in prison (Psalm 105:19) and Paul says that he learned how to hold his head toward heaven in every circumstance. Philippians 4:13 says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
When we live a life with God, we learn that every ‘no’ is as good as his yes. We learn that God’s presence is the blessing. We remember the caution of Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciplines those he loves.”
You will learn that you are not someone who lets other people dictate whether or not you can dream, or how happy you should be. You will discover that you are made of tougher stuff than the mud they sling at you. When you get on the bus, you learn that you are stronger than you thought you were, and God is more faithful than you could have dreamed. Joseph was no less anointed in the pit, than he was in the palace. Life is seasons, and our ability to bend with it all only makes us more flexible.
It’s not always about proving others wrong. Sometimes it is more important to prove yourself right. Sometimes we don’t need other people to believe in us, we just need to believe in ourselves. Scripture tells us that there were times when David had to strengthen himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). Maybe this is that season for you. The season where you strengthen yourself in the Lord.
There will always be people who hurt us and don’t look back.
We don’t get on the bus for them. We get on the bus for ourselves.
Heather Thompson Day is associate professor of communication at Colorado Christian University and an interdenominational speaker and contributor for Religion News Service, Newsweek, and the Barna Group. She runs an online community called I'm That Wife and is the author of six books, including Confessions of a Christian Wife and How to Feed the Mediavore. Her newest book It's Not Your Turn releases this June.
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