My 7th year. I am coming to the end of my 7th year of this counseling youth gig. Of stepping inside schools to hopefully provide safe space for those that just need a breath of fresh air. A minute away from pressure. Someone to guide and direct them to share and express their feelings in a way that is healthy.
For the first couple years, I hid God while in those schools. Hid my Bible verse tattoos. Hid my Bible. I was scared to mention His name. Mention anything related to Him because well, I walk the halls of public schools. That is a “no-no” in these halls. The one year I did shed the long-sleeve shirts, and left my Bible in plain view? Well, that was a year filled with strife and battles. Pain. Heartache. Opposition. One I will never forget.
But…I don’t hide Him anymore.
While I don’t walk the halls thumping people over the head with a Bible, when I have an office, I still keep a Bible in it. I still pray daily before each session with each client. I still wear my cross and my Bible verse tattoo out in the open. I don’t hide, but I don’t shout it from the rooftops. Public school, remember?
So, I have found it interesting that even though I never say His name, these are the conversations I seem to be having week in and week out?
“If I wish on this dandelion do you think God will hear me?” This is the question I was asked as we went on our weekly “walk and talk.” Originally, I was surprised by the question. He had never mentioned God in our conversations before, and neither had I; so why now? And how did he know I was safe?
And I realized, I never had to mention Him by name.
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6
He knew to mention God because I had shown God to him. Through my actions. I never had to say a single word about Him, I simply had to show up and be like Jesus in each and every encounter on those walks.
How? Quite simple, really. I was known by my fruit (Matthew 7:16). The ones mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Those of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I never had to say one word about the Bible. Never had to mention Jesus by name. I just had to be like Him, and people saw Him in me.
This teen, though too cool for school most days. Angry, yelling and ready to yell back at any adult most days. Taller and much better at basketball than me, wasn’t too cool that day to stop and make wishes on dandelions. He also wasn’t too cool to ask tough questions about God, or even talk about him at school.
Why? Because someone had been patient. Someone had been kind. Someone had been gentle with their words. Shown self-control in their responses when he was upset.
Someone was Jesus.
I have had many conversations about Jesus prior to this day. I don’t tell people in my secular role that I am a pastor. Once they find out they often treat me differently, or are more guarded. I simply try each day to be Jesus with skin on as I walk into a session with each person who is sitting with me. Whether wishing on dandelions, shooting baskets, or playing a game. I try to be an example of Him everywhere I go.
Some may have tried to diminish that light before, but like dandelions-the hard to kill weed-the light can survive and thrive in the most hard to reach places. It grows in conditions that seem unfathomable (even out of concrete sidewalks), and it’s hard to miss their bright yellow blooms, or their dry seed heads in an open field. It’s hard not to want to pick one up and make a dandelion wish.
It’s hard not to notice the light of Jesus, when you are displaying His fruit.