I tiptoed in ten minutes late. Not because of traffic or parking, but with the reassuring knowledge that if I arrived after the program started I’d avoid the awkward mingling that happens when you barely know anyone in the room.
My friend wiggled her fingers in my direction, then pointed to an empty chair at her table. The one that was sandwiched between her friends that I didn’t know.
To my dismay, I’d arrived just in time for table chat. The circle of women fell into easy conversation, picking up on stories that seemingly started years before. Babies were all grown up, forever prayers were answered, and laughter was shared over seasons gone by.
Everyone was perfectly nice, but to me, the air felt thick and tense.
I don’t like being the new girl. It makes me sweaty and anxious, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I know God doesn’t want me to do life alone, I’d just stay home. Alone.
Now, if you’re that woman who walks into a room and strikes up conversation with perfect strangers, you should come find us sweaty, anxious girls because we need you. Go on, throw us a bone and do all the talking.
I’ve had to navigate the new girl path because it was the one set before me. When we transitioned to a new church two years ago, we left a lot of friendships behind. I wish I had all the answers as to why that happened, but I don’t.
Life can be messy, but God IS greater.
While God was gracious in allowing me time and space to heal among the safety of family and trusted friends, I longed for that wider circle of community. It was no coincidence then, that God began to nudge me out of my comfort zone by providing invitations and opportunities to meet new people.
I walked into the room that morning, admittedly with reluctance, because I was obeying God.
There have been deep cleansing breaths and big prayers for courage. There has also been hiding in bathroom stalls, avoiding eye contact, and seating myself in far corners. But more than those, there has been learning and growth along the way.
If you find yourself embarking on the new and unfamiliar, maybe this encouragement will make your journey just a little less sweaty.
— How to Navigate Being the New Girl —
Be intentional with your thoughts.
Having faith that God can get us through the difficult and complicated takes purpose and intention. If that wasn’t enough work, we have an enemy that would love to convince us we aren’t able, worthy, or enough. Instead, fix your thoughts on the fact that God goes before you in grace, truth and love. He is for you and because of Him, you can be brave.
Give others the benefit of the doubt.
When we walk into a situation that is new and uncomfortable, we can try to find comfort in our own assumptions and preconceived notions. I could have made excuses or jumped to the conclusion that the gals at the table would rather not speak to me or invite me in, but that wouldn’t be fair to them or me. As much as is possible, give others the benefit of the doubt and assume the best.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others
as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests,
but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4 NLT
Know your value, but don’t defend it.
When we’re the new girl, we can feel compelled to convince others that we belong—because of what we do, who we know, or even worse, by undervaluing ourselves and inviting pity. If you’re in a safe and welcoming environment, give yourself grace to adjust to the newness, give others the grace to receive you, and don’t feel like you have to put on a show to fit in. Be you—that’s the foundation of the authentic relationships you’re hoping to build.
If you’re the new girl because the old girls did you wrong [p.s. I’m sorry], this probably goes without saying, but be kind. This may involve some stretching—it did for me—but make the first move. Say hello. Notice the color of her nail polish. Comment on the flowers and share your favorite. Tell her you’re new and ask if you can sit beside her. Kindness and open arms are fabulous, but we won’t encounter them if we run the opposite direction.
We’ve come full circle. It all begins and ends with God. He’ll give us strength, but He’ll always be our soft place to land when things don’t go well or we just can’t. Unbecoming the new girl takes a little time and effort, but you are always and forever His girl. Nothing will ever change that. Don’t forget it, and always return to the God who adores you.
Being the new girl isn’t easy. I know. Really I do. The truth of the matter is, while many may try, no one can make us feel invited and welcome, unless we are willing to let them in. I hope, like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you do. If you are, turn around and return the kindness to the new girl behind you. ♥
By His endless grace,