About the Author

Kristen Strong, author of Back Roads to Belonging and Girl Meets Change, writes as a friend offering meaningful encouragement for each season of life so you can see it with hope instead of worry. She and her US Air Force veteran husband, David, have three children and live in Colorado...

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  1. I’ve been wanting to soak my feet (and my brain) in the truth of John 15 for some time now, so thank you, Kristen, for alluding to it in terms of Christ’s branching-out and laying-down love.
    Blessings to you as you continue to encourage women in the midst of change.

  2. Kristen,
    Thanks for the swift kick in the pants I needed this am 😉 I’ve lived in my community in the South for 20+ years now. Sometimes I forget what it’s like to be the new kid in town. All those years of moving around the country and being the “new girl”….oh how quickly we forget what that feels like. Thank goodness for groups like MOPS (it was my life preserver many times). I’ve been on both sides of the equation and isn’t it like God – that when we get too comfortable – He shakes it up a bit. I need the continual reminder to keep expanding the circle. There’s always room for one more. What wonderful people we miss out on it we stay tied to our clique. Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  3. I’m going to send this one to my teenage daughter. You are echoing what I said to her last week when we found out there would be a new girl in our homeschool group. She and the other girls have been tight for years. Time to be intentionally welcoming!

  4. Kristen
    Growing up in the Military I remember all too well what it was like to be the new kid. As an adult I’ve lived in the same community for many years and things haven’t changed much, but I’ve learned to adapt. However, it’s also helped me be more accepting of the new kid so to speak, and for that understanding I am grateful. Thank-you for your thoughtful reminder to be more aware of the excluded.
    Blessings to all,
    Penny

    • My 3 military kiddos would agree with you 100%. Being the new kid (or adult!) over and over again will open your eyes to the other new people crossing your path. And make you desire to be intentionally welcoming to them.

      Thankful for your words and heart here, Penny! xo

  5. Kristen,

    Being the newbie is no fun. It is hard trying to fit in with an established group. I remember 14 years ago going to hubby’s little church. Everyone new everyone & a lot were related. I remember Judy coming over to see me after the service & welcome me. Fast forward to today & I’m friends with everyone. Now I go up to newbie & welcome them. I want to make sure they feel the love of Christ & come back often. People need God’s love in their lives. Change is hard. I want to make it as easy as I can.

    Blessings 🙂

  6. Seems like I have a lot of company as an introvert that does not like change. Thanks for the boost to move beyond my comfort level.

  7. I’m about to say something perhaps a bit uncomfortable but on the table is honesty and going outside the zone. (in) courage is teetering on clique’ish. I am much older than the regular reader and sense a reluctance to let the older women ‘in.’ That being said, I hope something can be done about that. There are a lot of 60+ women who are still very much in the circle of life and have much to offer. I say that with a lot of love and hope, to (maybe) shake things up a bit!!!

    • Hi $usan I agree being over60 as well get the feeling my posts are overlooked ashave little in coomon now but can stll relate especially being introverted and dreading change..

      • Sharon, I’m so sorry that’s been your experience here. I can say that certainly isn’t our intent or our heart. Like I told Susan, from here forward I will do my best to take the advice I offered today in hopes that you’ll feel less this way. We’re so grateful to have you within this community!

    • Susan dear! We always, always welcome honest communication offered respectfully, which you’ve assuredly provided here. And we thank you for doing so.

      First, I’m so, so sorry you’ve sensed a reluctance around here to let women in your life stage in. I can say that certainly isn’t our intent or our heart. Having said that, and having lived many a season feeling on the outside of various groups myself, I know at times there still will be a wide gap between what is intended and what is or what is perceived. From here forward, I will do my best to take the advice I offered here today, as well as pay attention to what I can do to shrink that gap. Because there is always, always room at the table of (in)courage for one more seat. We love you, Susan, and are so grateful for *your* heart and words in this community! xo

    • Dear Susan,
      First, let me say that I so appreciate the way you shared your frustration and concern with “a lot of love and hope.” Foundational to building authentic community is our ability to speak the truth in love and believe the best in one another for the capacity to grow and change. Second, I want to express, both personally and on behalf of the (in)courage community, that we value the voices of our more seasoned sisters! 🙂 Across the generations, we have so much in common as women as so much to learn from one another. This is one of the reasons why we have loved having a woman like Liz Curtis Higgs as a long-time (in)courage contributor and mentor. There is no finish line or age limit to the ongoing contributions a woman can make to the kingdom! Indeed, you and your seasoned peers have MUCH to offer! So lastly I want to express my sorrow that you have not felt that value here. I hope you continue to show up and offer your wisdom and encouragement. Most of our words are not marketed to the masses but can surely make a meaningful impact to the one. So keep on keepin’ on, friend. You are welcome here. xo Becky

  8. I’ve also been on both sides of this particular equation — and am ashamed to confess that being in a “clique” at times gave me a false sense of security — as if it were a validation of my worth as a friend!

    Thankfully, I’ve for the most part grown out of this attitude, having fully accepted the Source of my worth. At the same time, however, I continue to suffer the occasional pang of envy and/or loneliness when I happen upon a posting on Facebook any other social media site:

    A group of women celebrating their friendship…their closeness…their commonality. In many cases, the caption is something like “A fun brunch with my people”. “Hanging out with my tribe”.

    The underlying message: “We’re Us. Your’re Not”.

    Certainly not the intent, but can be an inadvertent statement of exclusivity.

    Let’s be careful, shall we??

    • Good words here, Mimi! While we want to be in a place where we’re secure in where God has us, we also don’t want to contribute to someone else’s struggle in this very area, when possible. Thanks for sharing here–these are good things to think about! xo

  9. As an Army wife when we moved to a new post I was the new girl but there was the buffer of always knowing there would be a large number of other new girls. We all helped each other our and the established wives helped the new wives. When my husband got out of the army I was thrust into being the new girl in community of established people. For a long time I expected the established ones to reach out to me. I thought they should do the inviting. Eventually I learned that *I* might need to be the one who initiates play dates and the like. We just made a very unexpected move across the country and I’ve been hesitant to make friends. I’m the new girl AGAIN. It’s so much work for my shy self to reach out. A few ladies from church have reached out to us and this post is the reminder I need to move from my pew to meet them in the aisle. Friendship is a two-way street!

  10. Oh, Kristin, I’ve moved a lot too, and I can so relate to both examples of these women. Community is written on my heart, but since my children started becoming teens and adults, I admit there’ve been times when I’m just tired, and want the comfort of being with my people. — And yet, there’s always this part of my (soul, perhaps) that sees the one who’s lonely. Because I’ve been her. Standing on the periphery not knowing how to interject my non-dramatic self into an already-formed circle of friends. Moving is rough on grown-ups, isn’t it?! With families and responsibilities, it’s harder to connect and make fast friends. I love how God uses our weakness to plant His heart inside us. Much of the heart I have for community and for inclusion, I’m certain is from my experiences as the new girl. It takes one to know one, and all. 🙂 ♥

  11. Hi there
    I have lived here in WA state for some time now and have struggled both with being on the outside as well as being on the inside. Right now I work in retail which prevents me from going to church on Sundays as well as establishing a community with others in small groups during the week. I would appreciate prayers please to find a different job that enables me to feel less isolated and more included in Christian community. I am at a weird place right now feeling like I no longer fit at the small church I’ve attended for a while now and yet not knowing or understanding where God is leading me now. I wish bigger churches as well as churches in general were good about following up with people. It feels really lonely. Anyway thank u for writing this devotion.

  12. This is such an important topic right now…in my life but also for what social media has become. Literally, this week, the word clique is what came to my mind. That’s what I’m starting to see all over social media. And I hate it.

    It’s no longer just something that the celebrities do, it’s something the Christians are doing. And shame on us.

    It hurts every time I see pictures of women that choose only to congregate amongst those who are doing big and important things in the name of Jesus. It causes me, personally, turmoil…because on the one hand you want to get “in” on these groups. And on the other hand you see how marginalizing they are and you just wanna be the one to change it.

    It makes me want to pursue these women and those left out more and yet give up at the same time.

    This post is so timely. I know that no matter how hard it is or how much it hurts, my acceptance and even friendship must first come from Jesus. And from there, I must remember to embrace and include those on the outside. I know that I must also watch my heart and how I feel towards those on the “inside.”

    Thank you for this post. I pray that women rise up and begin to see this, in real life and online, and do something about it.

    Much love.