When I was nine years old, Dad decided our family should move. A few months later, we were in our new house and I was about to start school in the middle of the semester.
I missed my friends, the old neighborhood, my old Sunday School. It was hard to leave the street where Dad had patiently taught my brothers and me how to ride our bikes. I missed the backyard, where we played games in the sun, watched bugs and butterflies, and stomped around in cowboy boots.
So many happy memories! And now it felt as if we were a million miles away.
At my new school, my new classmates teased me all the time during recess. While playing dodgeball, some of the kids would slam the ball against my legs really hard. If a teacher caught them, they just laughed.
My handwriting became very small on my school papers. It had shrunk along with my confidence. I felt that I wanted to be invisible. My teacher, Mrs. Isaacs, told my mother that I seemed unhappy and asked if everything was all right at home. Mom assured her that it was. The next day, Mrs. Isaacs took me aside and in a gentle way told me that it would help her if I would write a little bigger.
My parents had enrolled my brothers and me in a nearby Christian Science Sunday School. I felt loved and appreciated there. I felt at home. I had learned the powerful spiritual truth that God is Love, and that everyone, including my new classmates and me, is made in God’s image and likeness, reflects God’s love, and is made to be loving. For many weeks, whenever I needed comforting at school, I remembered Bible verses, hymns, and a few of my favorite lines from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. This was a way of paying attention to God, and it made me feel calm and strong.
There are many thoughts in the Bible and Science and Health that help us see that God loves us and that we are made to express His love by loving one another. The Lord’s Prayer and the spiritual interpretation of it in Science and Health is a good place to start: “Our Father which art in heaven, / Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” (Science and Health, p. 16). The book of First John in the Bible tells us, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (3:2). And the book of Hebrews says, “Let brotherly love continue” (13:1). Hymn 32 in the Christian Science Hymnal was also one of my favorites as I prayed about love and brotherhood at school. The last verse says:
Thou to whose power our hope we give,
Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
Speaks kindly when we meet and part.
(Mary Baker Eddy)
During recess, I started playing handball with other girls—some older, some younger. I was pretty good! I didn’t brag about this or complain if I lost a game. But most of the older girls didn’t like to lose. Some would shout mean things at any girl who won a match against them, then laugh harshly when she lost.
One day when I won a game, I felt inspired to thank my friend for a good game. When I lost the next round, I trotted to the back of the line and said to the winner, “Hey, good play!” As the next game started up, I rooted for both players. I was normally shy, so speaking up like this was new for me. But I could tell it was divine Love expressing itself in me, helping me stand up and root for good.
At first I was made fun of for cheering for both players. But I kept expressing love, and there was a gradual change. Because this example of good sportsmanship was rooted in divine Love, it helped the whole group. If you think about it, it makes sense that everyone naturally wants to be kind and good, because God made us that way.
Within a few weeks, we were all friends, offering encouragement and support to both players in each handball match. Some of us even started offering tips to the players who needed more practice, and we were glad to watch them improve. As I earned respect from some of my classmates, friendships formed. Soon, my handwriting on school papers returned to its normal size, to Mrs. Isaacs’s relief!
When I look back, I’m thankful for our family’s move because it helped me learn more about God and expressing His love. You can express this love, too … whether you are the new kid or welcoming new kids to your school!
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