My stomach did somersaults as I shuffled timidly to the door of a house I had never been in before.
I was meeting with people I'd never met before.
I was terrified. But I sucked in a deep breath and rang the doorbell.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
A year ago this month, I agreed to be a mentor to a group of rising freshman girls at church during their summer study.
I realized on my very first day with them that there was something very different about these girls and their leaders. They were strangely mature for having just graduated middle school. And their leaders truly lead them in biblical truth. They didn't shy away from what the Word said, or how important it is to study it.
I quickly found myself fitting in more than I had in any other youth group - and that's saying a lot. I'd been in various groups with various leaders throughout my high school years, and I had never felt so at home.
I wanted desperately to ask the leaders to let me be a part of the group during the year, but knew that it wouldn't be an appropriate request. I would have to be invited.
And, praise be to God, I was. Everything fell together for me to be a part of this group of freshman girls throughout my senior year.
Many of the other seniors were confused at my leaving my current group to join a freshman one.
"You want to be in a freshman group?" I was asked over and over again.
My answer then was a resounding yes.
And my answer now would be the same, but with a few added remarks.
Yes, because I love them dearly.
Yes, because they made me feel more loved and more welcomed than any of my previous groups.
Yes, because I've grown in my faith and in the Word more this year than in any other.
Yes, because I love being a big sister to them.
Yes, because I belong with them.
I'm sad that the year is coming to an end, and that I'll be in another state after this year's summer study.
As my girls move into their sophomore year of high school and I move into my freshman year of college, I hope they know that I won't forget them when I go to college.
In fact, it will be quite the opposite. I will miss them immensely.
I hope they know that I always want to hear from them. I always want to be there for them.
I hope they know that I will love them just as dearly from afar as I do from up close.
True friendship transcends state lines and grades.
And I am proud to call each of these beautiful, wonderful sophomore girls is a true friend.