I actually kind of like being the new kid.
As a homeschooler my entire life (hold your jokes and questions until the end, please), my socialization was a hodge podge of whatever interested me at the time.
I did ballet for a year, gymnastics for a year, tumbling for a winter, and trombone lessons for a summer.
When I graduated high school, I didn’t even hesitate to choose a college far enough away that I would need to meet entirely new friends and locate my very own stamping grounds.
Now here I am, a married women working a full-time job. Life does involve a lot of change. Being able to adjust in new situations is a life skill everyone should learn.
But staying put brings its own set of obstacles. If you stay in one place long enough, you will learn a few other lessons.
1. You find the next new kid.
My favorite part about entering a group where no one knew me was that I didn’t always have to participate. I was new, after all, people had to be nice to me. When you have been somewhere awhile people stop approaching you, and you may need to meet halfway (or more) in the relationships you’re forming.
2. You let people see you.
Every time you move, you get to create a new identity for yourself and leave your old mistakes behind. When you stay put, people start to know you, live through awkward moments with you, and call you out when necessary.
For me, I only want people to see my best self, not the real me hiding underneath. Being known is dangerous and takes humility that I don’t practice when I get to run away at the sign of any mistake.
3. You deal with the worst.
Last fall, the pastor of my church resigned. My first thought when I heard the news was, “Okay, let’s find somewhere new.” One of the main reasons I went to that church was because I liked that pastor’s sermons. Without him, why not just leave? Staying meant walking through the difficult transition with my church family to find who we are as a church and what holds us together (Spoiler Alert: It’s Jesus, not our pastor).
4. You give up the power of choice.
When I was a kid, after each season of extracurriculars, my parents would ask my sister and me if we wanted to keep going with this activity or pick a new one. We usually chose to move on.
Those kids who went to school with the same people since kindergarten? The person who staffs the same nursery they played in? They seemed passive.
At age 8, I mostly made these decisions to switch to a new activity based on whether I liked the other kids in the class, but as an adult, changing paths has been a way to control my surroundings. Staying means letting your circumstances act on you, no matter how brutal they get. It means accepting that I actually am weak.
During some seasons in life, God will call you to move, change, and adapt. Other times, He may tell you to stay put. I’ve been through both.
The key to surviving when it seems like you are asked to do exactly what you didn’t want to?
I am reminded of what a guy in prison said, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
Moving into a new city or staying in a situation that is difficult don’t seem to compare to being beaten, shipwrecked, or imprisoned, but as cliché as it is to quote that verse, I truly believe God’s promise to us is just as true to us as to Paul.
Embrace the change. Wrestle with the staying. Pray through it all.