When I was growing up, we attended a small Pentecostal Church. I was the ONLY girl my age at the church. Seriously, for like two or three years I was the only girl with twelve boys. I was always praying that God would send me a best friend. I had my cousin and several best friends that were boys (hey, I was 10 and 11 years old). Then the church started a private school (which turned out to be a disaster for my education) so in 6th grade I met a girl named Peaches with beautiful flaming red hair and her sisters Kim (who we called Kimby) and Gina. Peach, is one month older than me but because her birthday is in September and mine is in October she was actually a year a head of me in school. Gina was one year older than me and Kimby was a year and some change younger than me. This all worked out well because my sister, who is two years younger than me was close to Kim’s age. In our later teens, the five us ended up hanging out together a lot.
Peaches was my best friend at school but they attended a very large no association Pentecostal church across town. The church I attended frowned upon us visiting this other church for a variety of reasons but primarily because our church viewed this church as completion and we were losing and losing badly. When the next school year rolled around, my parents placed us in a different private school (much better school) and I didn’t see much of my friend Peaches.
A year passed and there were some issues at the church we were attending. I honestly do not know what all was going on but my dad felt that something bad was going to happen (which he was correct about and if we had stayed we would have ended up being dragged through an ugly church split – thank you dad for sparing us that) so we started attending the church across town.
This new church, is very large, especially to a 14 year old who had attended a church of 150 to 200 members for her entire life. This church had 1000 members. The youth group alone had 150 students. When my sister and I walked into the youth for the first time we were overwhelmed. Guess who appeared out of nowhere and took us in? Peaches, Gina and Kimby. To us they were just our friends but in this youth group, they were the popular girls. We didn’t know. We felt at home with friends and we had a great time. We became cool kids. But we didn’t know it. I really didn’t know this for several years.
One of the things we were encouraged to do was meet new students who visited the church and invite them to attend the youth group. Since we were new we didn’t really know who was new and who wasn’t. So one Wednesday or Sunday I invited a girl, Carie, to go to youth with me. She had grown up at the church but really didn’t know anyone. She went with me several times and ended up becoming friends with several other girls. We became very good friends in our early 20s. She told me that when we were in youth most of the girls hated me and my sister. I asked why? We tried to be nice to everyone and included everyone. She told me many of the girls who grew up there wanted to be in the “in crowd” and we arrived one day and we were automatically “in”. Wow, we didn’t even know. We were having fun with our friends.
I guess I’ve never thought about it much. I wasn’t “in” any group in high school. I was friends with people from different groups. I didn’t hang out much with people from school because I was involved with youth group. I served on the leadership committee for our youth group. When I was 18 or 19, I helped start a young singles group at the church. I helped plan events, etc. I was always at church.
When I moved to Alabama, I eventually attended a large Baptist Church with around 150 singles. It’s a long story but I eventually jumped in and became one of the leaders among the singles. I facilitated small groups in my home and frequently hosted parties. My apartment became a hang out with some of the singles. Eventually, Angela and I moved in together and we always had something going on…friends over for dinner parties (I once cooked Veal Marsala for 22 people), to watch movies, for any reason. We were the “in group” and anyone was welcome to hang out with us. We didn’t set out to be the “in group”, we were just having fun. We “owned it” our attitude became, “this is our church and our singles group and we will help you get connected.”
What I am finding now is I am not always going to be in the “in crowd”. That’s okay but at what point in life are there no more “cool kids”? When you have children do you hope they will be “cool kids”? Does it ever stop? Being the “cool kid” is fun. But you must be able to move beyond that or you will be stuck at one specific time in your life. It’s okay to just be one of the kids.