A high school student comes to our church every time the doors are open, although his parents never come. He’s intelligent and thoughtful and usually sits by himself, although he’s pleasant when he visits with me.
I called one of his teachers to ask about him.
The teacher described him as an “old soul.” He sits by himself at lunch and reads, mostly because he doesn’t have anyone to visit with. His teachers like him very much. He used to go to the church down the street where the youth group is bigger, but he opted to worship with us.
His family is poor. People in our church chipped in quietly and rented his tux for the prom. I took him to get fitted and he was quietly excited. Even he could see that he was quite handsome in his fancy duds. He was very graceful in accepting his gift and expressed genuine gratitude.
He’s always hungry. When he comes on Sunday, we always have breakfast for him and a few others. On Sunday evenings with youth, I make sure there’s plenty of food that comes his way.
I asked my son about him. He told me the boy is a nice guy. Everyone likes him. But he just doesn’t fit in.
I like him. He reminds me of me at that age: sitting alone in a crowd with a book, getting along better with adults than the children my own age. Perhaps lonely but unable to be silly like the other kids in order to fit in.
I want to tell him that it may always feel that way, but he’ll find a handful of friends along the way that will mean a great deal to him. I already tell him how many possibilities there are for him. I don’t think he knows that. I don’t think anyone in his family tells him that.
But his church does. And his preacher does.