Hi, John!

23 01 2011

A voice from a lovely face calls out, “Hi John, how are you today?”  Caught off guard a mite, I return the smile with my own greeting, “Hi Sharon, fine thank you.”  As I continue my trek down the corridor one thought comes to mind, “What’s up with that?!”

My high school years were far from glamorous to say the least.  During my senior year I was an independent student living away from home, working a job, playing music and, oh yeah, going to school when ever it fit into my schedule.  I had to go only half days and I generally cut at least two of those a week.  School had lost priority in my life.  I made a promise I would finish, but had no plans of putting any more effort into it than I had to.  Pretty much I kept to myself at school since most of my friends were older and I felt I had nothing in common with these ‘kids.’ It amuses me to look back and see what kind of immature mindset I possessed while remembering how I viewed all my classmates.  I was in such a hurry to grow up that I lost sight of the gladness of youth and the enjoyment it brings for that short moment in our travels through time.  

Nearly 40 years later; 3 kids and 4 grandchildren, I’ve realized the mistake of not enjoying the moment more.  I missed opportunities to establish life-long relationships with some great people, many I never took time to know or even talk to till years later like at class reunions.  Call it age, call it maturity, say that it is because I am a Christian now, explain it how ever you like.  All I know is I now see these people in a less judgmental light.  I’m also sure that this change of attitude didn’t happen all at once.  It had to grow like a plant or flower that is well cared for and it had to start with good seeds.  One of those seeds was a girl named Sharon.

Sharon was one of those girls in school that everyone knew (even loners like me).  She was attractive, bright and involved in many activities including cheerleading.  Yes, she was a young lady that held what you might call “high-school celebrity status.”  At the mention of her name, everyone knew who you were talking about.   Now anyone who lives through the world of being a teenager can attest to the fact there is a certain pecking order, if you will, to who you associate with and who is out of your league.  Gals like Sharon were like stars on a stage and guys like me were the ones sitting in the back row admiring grace and beauty from a safe distance.  This pecking order as I call it, since I really don’t care for the word ‘click,’ is just part of the school experience.  Some become bitter to ones who seem to be in the upper echelon, maybe because of something said or done in a moment of dumb adolescence.  But if others are truthful, it just came down to one matter–jealousy.   For me, like I said earlier, the majority of my friends were older and I had already gone through the rites of being picked on and picking back in earlier years so I didn’t really pay a lot of heed to what my fellow school peers were about or what they were in to.  Get in the door to go to class in the morning, keep occupied till 11:40 and then out to the world I was more comfortable in.  I mean, sheesh!  Why would a guy like me want to get involved with a bunch of ‘kids?’  If anyone who’s reading this felt the same during their school years, let me break it to you as gently as I can.  You need to rank yourself as one of the biggest snobs in the place. (Gentle enough for ya?)  Looking back I must confess that’s where I was.  I carried a chip on my shoulder for having to be with this group that I felt no commonalty with.  Oh well, make the best of it I guess, keep moving and keep my mouth shut and maybe people won’t even notice I’m here.

Then one day, “Hi John, how are you today?” Say what!  Did Sharon just speak to me?  How’d she even know my name? I couldn’t recall any classes we had ever had together or ever speaking to her for that matter.  My next thought was ok, what’s the joke?  Someone trying to have a little fun at my expense?  Well, ain’t a gonna happen.  It had to be a prank or something so I never told anyone about it and just put it out of my mind.  But then, it happened again, and again.  Every time our paths crossed over the school year it was always the same, a beautiful smile and a warm greeting.   Now this was starting to bug me a little so I told a friend one evening about Sharon and her ‘niceness.’ “Well,” he started, “maybe she’s interested in you.” “Are you nuts!” I yelled.  “She’s one of the prettiest and most popular girls in school besides the fact that her boyfriend is a football player who’s big enough to put a hurt on King Kong!  I don’t think so!”  My friend leaned back in his chair brandishing a grin at the success of getting the reaction he wanted from me.  “Nah, I don’t think so either,” he finally responded between snickers.  “Well then, let me ask you this, are you interested in her?”  “Now you know better than that,” was my response less furiousness than when he had baited me.  He well knew the answer to that question.  It was no secret my heart interest was a gal who played piano at a little church we attended down the street (who I’m happy to say has been my wife of 37 years!) Going on I fessed up, “I must admit it is nice to have a girl like Sharon acknowledge my existence even if it’s just by saying hi.”  Now my friend was leaning forward in his chair.  “Maybe that’s it.”   “Maybe what’s it?” I quizzed a little dumbfounded.  “Well, you said you’ve always known who she was but never talked to her because of her status and the people she hung with.”  “True.” I said.  “I know I’m not the type who fits into her circle of friends.”  “Okay, fair enough,” he responded. “But have you ever given her the benefit of the doubt that maybe she could have fit into your circle?”  “From what you’ve told me she sounds like a real nice girl and she probably knows who you are.  You can’t go through your school years with a bunch of kids and not know who most are at some point.” Now leaning even more forward and staring me straight in the eye; “and since you were too good to ever speak to her” (now if that’s not a slap in the face to wake up to yourself I don’t know what is!)  “Maybe she just decided one day to show you how nice she is by speaking.” With friends like this old aggravating cuss who needs a conscious?

Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

When I became a Christian, I knew there was a change in me.  But truth be told, my heart wasn’t totally there, at least not yet.   I loved and still love my Lord and continue to learn more from the Bible of His love for me.  But with all I learned, I somehow kept sheltered areas of my life that I didn’t want to bother with like how I felt about some people. God’s Word teaches me to turn over everything to Him, keep nothing hidden back, including attitudes.  Why, because God is greedy?  No, because God’s love for us is so immense that He doesn’t want anything to block the joy that is found in Him, and His creation which includes everyone.  Small acts of kindness like Sharon showed me is what every person in Christ should be showing to all they meet, planting seeds of the joy and happiness of being in Christ.  How we act toward people will effect how they react to us and quite possibly Jesus.

It’s been years now, but I still remember a seed planted with a beautiful smile from a young lady that helped change an attitude of judgment in me.  

Thank you, Sharon.  Whether you know it or not you showed me Christ!

A good number of years ago while back in my hometown I was with a group of former classmates and someone brought Sharon’s name up wondering what she might be doing now.  One person responded, “Oh, she was with that uppity group, so hard telling where she’s at.”  “Did you ever speak to her?” I quizzed.  Just a “No” was the response. “Too bad.  She was one of the nicest girls I remember from school!”

A little side note here; I was able to track Sharon down and send her a copy of this story. A short time later, I heard from her and we had a nice discussion of our school days and the problems she dealt with back then; no different from the rest of us.  What’s really nice is after all these years I can call her a friend, and even better; a sister in Christ.  Too Awesome!!!!!!


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One response

31 01 2011
Justin Miller

Hey dad. I like this story. It makes me think about when I was in school.

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