Getting Rid of First Day Jitters

Back to school spelled in Scrabble pieces.

Nothing can be more horrifying then carrying your tray across a crowded school lunchroom when you don’t know anyone. A new student can blend into a crowded hall, and in a classroom, there’s always an open desk, but lunch is a different story. I’ll never forget the first day of my senior year. We’d just moved up to the Boston area, and I didn’t know a soul. Kids dropped into seats next to their friends, laughing and catching up after a long summer. Girls clustered together at certain tables and boys at others. I lifted my chin and scanned for an open spot, trying to act as if I belonged.

There were open seats at the freshman tables, but I was an upperclassman, I couldn’t eat lunch with them. Juniors and seniors had a specific room sectioned off for us. I thought I found one, but as I attempted to sit, a girl’s hand covered the chair. She informed me it was reserved for her friend. I stood back up and glanced around for another open spot while the girl promptly forgot my existence.

I swallowed down my rising sense of panic and considered skipping lunch. How strict was this school on their hall pass policy? Could I make it to the library and hide among the books? As I stood there dripping with insecurity, a warm friendly voice said, “Hey, new girl. I think you’re in my physics class.” She slid over and patted the place next to her. “Want to sit here?”

I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I don’t know if my friend, Jessica, knew how much that simple act of kindness meant to me.

I was no longer alone.

group of people

Elijah, God’s prophet, knew an even more extreme version of loneliness. King Ahab had killed all of the prophets and his wife, Jezebel, threatened to kill Elijah within twenty-four hours. Elijah ran and hid. He told God he wanted to lay down and die because he believed he was the only one left, but God tells him in 1 Kings 19:15-18, “I have reserved seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal.”  

Elijah thought he was alone, but he was actually number seven thousand and one of God’s prophets. He didn’t see God’s bigger picture and plan. The whole time Elijah was struggling, God was working the situation. We may think we are alone like Elijah did, but we are not. God is aware of our situation, and He is preparing a way, strengthening our faith, connecting us with the right people, and working our circumstances for His glory.

My children start school this week. My oldest starts high school, and my youngest starts junior high. I always remind them to be friendly to the new kids because I know firsthand how rough the first day can be. If you are the new kid or you’re starting a new job, new church, new program, or you just feel lonely, please know you are not alone. God is with you, and he’s not only reserved you a seat. He’s reserved you a people.

To paraphrase Michael Bublé, you just haven’t met them yet.

“God sets the lonely in families” – Psalm 68:6

My boys getting ready for school
My boys getting ready for school. They don’t get as excited as they once did.

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