The talking lunch box

This is a true story about a girl named Sarah. She had just started first grade. She had looked forward to school for a long time, but when the first day came she suddenly realized she knew no one in her class. Sarah missed her mom and her little brothers.

The other kids weren't really mean, but they sometimes looked at her in a strange way and asked her hard questions, like, "Why do you wear blue ribbons in your hair?" And, "Did you know your mother's car has got dents on the side? And it's always dirty."

They didn't know that blue was Sarah's favorite color. She liked blue ribbons! Nor did they know that Sarah's family lived on a farm and they had to drive five miles over dirt roads to get to school. They could never keep the car clean.

Most of the other kids in her class bought their lunch in the school cafeteria, but Sarah's mom always made her sandwiches and put them, with fruit and a drink, in a special lunch box with her name on it. The other kids thought this was funny. Sometimes they teased her about it, or talked behind her back. They thought they could never be friends with someone who didn't do things the way they did.

What the other girls didn't know was that Sarah's lunch box was very special to her. She called it her talking lunch box. By "talking" she meant there was always a little message in the box from her mom. It would be written on a blue Post-it note.

The notes would say things like, "God loves you, and so do I." Or, "God is holding you safely in the palm of His hand." Or, "Nothing can take your joy from you, because it comes from God." Or, "In heavenly Love abiding,/ No change my heart shall fear" ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 148).

Sarah would have been embarrassed if anyone had seen those personal notes, but they were very precious to her. She could feel the love shining like sunlight from her mom and from her Father-Mother God, and she couldn't wait for lunch times to see what Mom had sent to make her feel stronger and more confident.

Then she realized her mom's messages weren't only true at lunch time, but all day long. God was with her right there in the classroom, in the halls, on the playground.

One day Sarah really had to put this into practice when one of her best friends said that Sarah was so different from her other friends that she didn't think she could play with her anymore. Sarah was heartbroken, and almost cried - until she remembered her talking lunch box. That morning her mom had said in a note: "We're all wonderfully different from each other, but all wonderfully the same in God's eyes - because we are brothers and sisters in His family."

Sarah played alone during that lunch hour but kept thinking about her mom's message. Then she remembered the story of the ugly duckling. He looked so big and clumsy and different from his feathered friends in the farm yard that he ran away to avoid being pecked and teased. He lived all alone until one day he came across a flock of graceful birds with long curved necks and realized that he was just like them. He wasn't a duck at all, but a swan - a beautiful swan! Being different from others was OK. He had a different kind of beauty.

And that's how it was for Sarah. When she stopped worrying about the ways she was different from others in her class and concentrated on how God saw her - as His perfect child - she felt just as beautiful and as peaceful as a swan on a lake.

Two days later, her friend came to her before school and said, "Could we have lunch together today? I've missed you." And when her friend took off her woolly cap, guess what? Yes, she had blue ribbons in her hair. Sarah almost jumped with joy. And quietly to herself, she thanked God.

She never felt lonely again, whether she had friends to play with or not. Sometimes she even enjoyed being on her own and doing things differently from others. It was still fun. And she knew God approved. That's what mattered most.

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