remember that you were at that time separated from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world.
— Ephesians 2:12

Being a junior high girl can be rough. As I look back on it now, it wasn’t that other kids were really mean to me. I wasn’t bullied or overtly ridiculed or anything like that. What hurt was this constant feeling of being alone, being separated from everybody else, feeling like a freakish other surrounded by those who seemed to feel together, included, because they belonged. In 7th grade, the few people I did know had a different lunch period. I went through the entire school year, eating lunch all by myself. I felt painfully aware most moments of being separate from everyone else, and that made each morning feel pretty hopeless.

I became a Christian at age 22. I can’t remember feeling painfully aware during the years leading up to that of being separated from Christ. While I woke up some mornings during my college years feeling hopeless, I didn’t attribute it to the dividing wall between Christ and me. I thought it had to do with whatever circumstances were worrying me in my day-to-day life.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility — Ephesians 2:13—14

When I was dead in my transgressions, I didn’t realize what a difference it would make to have a Savior who is near me. It never occurred to me that, even though everyday life would continue to hurl all kinds of stuff at me, I would no longer be alone in it. Now, I don’t have to face my day hopeless because I have been brought near. It doesn’t change my circumstances, but it definitely changes me.

Have you ever been through something really difficult, something that knocked the breath out of you and brought you to your knees? I have. At those times, that feeling of being alone returns. It’s not that people don’t care, it’s that they can smile without effort. They can laugh and enjoy life. But in those times, to me, I feel like I’m on the outside of life, looking in. Like there is an invisible wall separating happy people from me, and I have to work hard to muster up a smile.

It was in one of those times that God whispered into my heart, “I’m here.” It was like a lightening bolt, straight into me. It woke me up from my misery and made me feel like I was accepted and loved, like I belonged. I’m a different person since that day. Knowing that I am not an outsider makes the hard stuff more doable. Which is just what Christ intended when he brought me near through his blood. Now, I am able to do the good work that God prepared beforehand for me to do because I am not doing it by myself.

If you have not yet given your life to Christ, I want you to know right now that he died to bring you into his family, to take you from being an outsider to being somebody who belongs. He loved you so much that he was willing to give his life up in order to bring you into his family. He wanted you so badly that nothing could stand in his way of making you his own. All you have to do is accept the gift of belonging that he is offering you right now.

If you are a Christian, I want you to know that the good work he prepared beforehand for you to walk in depends on your ability to view other people as Christ sees them. They are precious, priceless to him. They are worth everything to him. Can you see them that way? Even the ones who are different from you? Even the ones who, in their brokenness, have hurt you? Today, be about the heavenly business of drawing others near. From its earliest days, the church has been in the business of accepting those the world saw as outsiders. Let us, the church, continue that good work. Let’s be wall-breakers and peace-bringers. Are you up for the challenge? You have Christ with you as you tackle it!