“Why don’t you go outside and play with your friends?” The young girl cringed inside every time her mother asked her that question. How could she admit that she didn’t have any real friends? What would her mother think of her if she admitted that she would really rather stay curled up inside the house, engrossed in her books? It felt terribly selfish to confess that she preferred her own company to that of others. “Guess I’ll go outside and wander around a bit, make Mom think I have friends” she thought sourly to herself, as she laid aside her book.

The girl was what was called ‘painfully shy’, always looking on from the outside, wishing she had the courage to join in with what looked like fun and games with other children. But her own sense of awkwardness and social fears always won out in the end. Was she abnormal? She wondered. How do all the other kids manage to seem so at ease, so carefree? It was a mystery to her.

The girl could also be called precocious, in her own odd way. Though painfully shy, it was obvious she was intelligent, with a large vocabulary, which she used well. She preferred, however, the company of either young children or adults. Interactions with her own peers were painful. Therefore, though shy, she found herself volunteering to teach Sunday School (the younger the children, the better), and singing in the adult choir by the time she was 13. She loved music. Like books, she could use it to escape painful reality, for a short time at least. And adults did not seem to judge her harshly like her peers did. In fact, adults liked her responsible behaviour and her polite demeanour.

“You’ve changed…what has happened?” Her mother’s comment followed something significant that had happened to the girl just about a week before. The girl smiled to herself. How could she even begin to explain what had happened when she had no words for it? All she knew was that the evening she was watching the crusade on television with her parents – youth night – she was strongly touched by the message, surprised that her regular church attendance and sincere attempts at being good was not enough to get her into heaven. She wondered why she had not heard this before. Why not in church? At the end of the service when the invitation was given for people to receive Christ, the girl bowed her head and said the sinner’s prayer. With no words to describe her experience, she only knew that something wonderful had happened. Yes, indeed, Mom was right – she was different. She felt so clean, so new inside and the foggy sad feeling that always had hovered over her head, seemed to have dissipated. Her life felt so new!

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