My dad was pastor at a church in New Mexico during my high school years. We had a fairly good sized youth group, most of whom attended the same high school I did. Our group included cheerleaders, student council members, and other “Popular” kids.
While not a complete outsider, I was not a member of the upper crust IN group. I was too different, came from too conservative a background, didn’t have enough money, was too shy… who knows?
One thing, however, became crystal clear very early on: just because you shared what you thought were wonderful conversations with someone at a church youth activity didn’t mean they’d hang with you, or even know your name while at school. I remember feeling hurt because a cheerleader youth group member wouldn’t even return my “Hi” while walking in the hall between classes.
While this may sound like a whine, it’s not. That experience was a wonderful teacher. It spurred me to search for a person’s inner self, to open myself to friendships with kids who were otherwise invisible.
And it taught me that deep-thinking, intelligent, fun, and life-enriching people may live inside some of the plainest packaging.