A Note from Lifeway Girls: Today is our last day of the Moment that Matter series, and we hope you have enjoyed these stories as much as we have! Abby’s story is a great reminder that you don’t have to be a girls minister or some kind of super Christian to reach out and impact a girl for Christ. You also don’t have to create some elaborate program to point girls to Christ. Abby reminds us that discipleship is meeting a girl where she is at, then asking her to come alongside us as we follow Jesus.
I started seventh grade as my shyness and anxiety fully set in. I had already been the new kid at two different places and did not want to go through the process of inventing a new me. I was quiet. I kept my head down and did my work. I mostly avoided group activities. Even as a middle schooler, I never took the time for those that were different from me and that made a very lonely girl.
In spite of my challenges to figure out how to be a normal person, I made a good friend in the drama department. She was the wise drama teacher who gave me a place to belong at school. Nearing retirement age and with more than forty years of teaching behind her, she made a twelve year old girl feel special.
One day she said, “Abby do you mind eating lunch with me in my classroom?” She knew the cafeteria was too overwhelming for me. I’m not sure if she made me feel special, but she made feel like I wasn’t alone. My wonderful drama teacher not only became my mentor, she remains my friend to this day and cheers me on with every big dream I’ve had for the last eleven years. Pointing me to Jesus and amazing Hallmark movies along the way.
I had a need to belong, but it was my teacher’s intentional effort to notice me and assess my needs that triggered her efforts to give me a place of comfort and belonging. As a mentor, my dear teacher did not try to remake me in her image. Her job wasn’t to make me into a version of herself, but to help me recognize the best parts of myself and develop and recognize my own potential.
As leaders, it becomes easy to focus on systems that appeal to most students. We struggle to develop content, icebreakers and worship experiences to appeal to “all” of our girls. It is easy to overlook the lonely, anxious and struggling individual that needs a moment of belonging and focused attention. Meet your students where they are and your impact will be noticed.
The impact of a simple lunch in the classroom impacted by life and I am challenged to do the same for another lonely girl.
Abby Underwood As a self-described introvert, Abby Underwood has struggled with social anxieties her whole life. Realizing her value in Christ, she overcame the challenges of loneliness, she is now fueled by her passion to help girls find their identity in Christ. Abby works as a member of the social media team and student ministry at Life.Church Hendersonville. Connect with Abby: Instagram // Website