Every day as a firstgrader during lunch I was mesmerized by the group of kids who came into the cafeteria after my class had gone through the line. I always watched when they came in the lunchroom. I wasn’t staring to be mean or rude. It made me sad.
Because even then I knew there was something very different about these kids.
And being different is so hard when you’re a kid.
One girl I won’t ever forget.
She stood out to me because she was taller than the other kids and she carried a purse in the crook of her arm just like my mother. She wore makeup.
Bright blue eye shadow, pale frosted orange lipstick over her big toothy grin, and she did her hair just like the older girls did theirs in the ‘60s, except her hair wasn’t frosted like theirs – it was fire-engine red. Her expression was blank, but she always seemed happy and determined, bounding into the cafeteria full-steam ahead, just like she belonged there with all those smaller kids.
Somehow even at the age of six I knew she didn’t belong and I ached for her.
I always wondered if she knew she didn’t belong.
A few years ago I saw her again, middle-aged now, cleaning tables at Luby’s cafeteria. Her face had aged and was less vibrant, the hair under the hairnet was dulled and graying, but I knew it was her.
I still didn’t even know her name, but I just wanted to hug her, to ask her if she’d found a place to belong – to feel loved. I really hope she did.
Because the truth is, He loves both little girls just the same, no matter what class we were in or what kind of grades we brought home. No matter what kind of jobs we end up working or if we’re able to work at all.
Whether we respond to his love or not.
He loves us just the same, blue eye shadow or none at all.