Summary: There are many divisive pressures that have always sought to keep us apart, but the cause and Cross of Jesus draws us together into one family.
She was fourteen. You all know the rocky terrain of being fourteen. It is mountainous and wooded and hard to find your way. It’s the place between childhood and adulthood. Not old enough to drive a car, but too old to look cool riding a bicycle. Too young to be out on your own, but too old to hang out with your parents at the mall. Fourteen is tough terrain to try and navigate. You need to fit in. You want to fit in. Where you fit in is of greatest importance to a fourteen year old.
Serena just happened to be fourteen. She was a great kid. She did her homework. Attended dance class. Prayed for the right boys to call and ask her to the “Sweetheart’s Dance.” She was in church most every Sunday…even when she had to walk the four blocks from her house to get there.
In Serena’s youth group there were all kinds of kids. They were around her age and trying to find their place in the world just like Serena. Most of the girls in Serena’s youth group were nice girls, but she really wanted to fit in with the girls who were in the popular crowd at school. Serena was pretty, smart, and had a smile like Julia Roberts. Even with all of that going for her, the popular girls at her school never made room for her to fit in. From time to time Serena would find a friend whose friend was in the popular group, but that was about as close as she ever got to the “in crowd.”
Serena tried to stay away from anyone who would lessen her chances of ever finding a home with the popular girls. She definitely didn’t want to be seen with the skater girls, the “hoochie mommas,” or girls that smoked dope.
One winter Serena was getting ready to go on the ski trip with her youth group at church. The Youth Pastor was going to assign four girls to a room for the four-day trip. Serena prayed that she would be put in the right room…the room where Natalie Jones, Jill Abernathy, and Katie Henson would be staying. Those girls had it going on. Everyone loved them. They were cheerleaders. Katie was the football queen last season. Jill’s parents had the most beautiful house in the city. If Serena could make it into their room she knew that she might finally get her big break.
When the kids and parents met to get their list of things to pack for the trip and their room assignments Serena was as nervous as a mouse at a cat convention. She crossed her fingers while she prayed hoping that one would work. When the Youth Pastor passed out the room assignments Serena’s heart sunk. Not only was she not in the room with the three PGOC’s (Popular Girls on Campus), but she was in the room with LaDonna McGar. LaDonna was the President of the Star Trek Fan Club at John F. Kennedy Middle School. She dressed the part. She looked the part. She was asked to pray at youth group one night and ended her prayer, “Beam us up Lord!” Serena was sick!
Serena told her mom that she wasn’t going. She couldn’t be seen with LaDonna McGar…it would ruin her reputation and any chance she ever had of fitting in at school. Serena’s mom and dad told her that she had signed-up, they had paid-up, and she might as well pack-up because she was going. They said, “You should give LaDonna a chance. She’s at church every Sunday, her parents are wonderful people, and you never know – you might have more in common with her than you think.” Serena couldn’t believe that her parents could be so cruel.
When the kids arrived at the lodge they unpacked their belongings and had some free time. The girls in Serena’s room were listening to some music and rearranging the room, but Serena kept everyone at arm’s length.
The next day the kids skied all day and after supper they gathered at the Lodge for devotions before going to bed. After the devotion was over they went back to their room to discuss the talk and answer some questions they had been given. All of the girls talked, except Serena. Serena listened and she heard things from LaDonna that she never imagined she could be feeling. LaDonna was lonely. She had been hurt. Her Star Trek uniforms and weird conversation style were ways to keep people away from her so that she wouldn’t be hurt any more.
By the end of the trip LaDonna and Serena were skiing with one another. Serena had loosened up. LaDonna made her laugh. They prayed for one another. Serena saw in LaDonna some of the same insecurities and feelings that she felt on a daily basis. On the last night the kids were packing before their final devotion and Serena told LaDonna, “I have to ask you to forgive me.” LaDonna said, “What are you talking about?” Serena said, “I almost didn’t come on the trip because I was going to have to stay in your room. I thought that being around you would ruin my chances of fitting in with the popular girls. I didn’t even know you. I’m sorry.” LaDonna accepted Serena’s apology and the two girls hugged each other.