Very early on school picture day this year, and a young man dressed in a dark navy suit, white shirt, and red-striped tie came to see me. He had a small American flag lapel pin and was toting a large bible. As the “yearbook lady,” I was the one to answer his question.
“Can I take two pictures today? One for the yearbook and one for my momma? One holding my bible and one not?”
Of course that wouldn’t be a problem, so I escorted him to the photographer and explained what we needed to be done, and she obliged.
This particular young man is the kind of person I think we all could take a lesson from — totally secure in himself, real no matter the audience, and genuinely kind and decent. But I think the most noteworthy trait this young man possesses is his unwavering commitment to his faith.
Despite walking the hallways surrounded by kids whose actions might be deemed profane, this young man never hides his mission. He is clear about why he chooses Jordan High and not another high school. He wants to be a source of positivity, and when he walks the crowded, noisy hallways full of desperate classmates, his smile never changes. His kind words are never silent.
And the kids respect him for that. He sticks out like a sore thumb, in all honesty. His Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, and water bottle dangling from his belt would seem out of place at Jordan. But he fits right in.
He fits in because the student body respects authenticity and consistency. When he walks, he walks with an aura of acceptance, not judgment. When he smiles, he smiles with a genuine care for his school and his classmates. Everyone likes him because he likes everyone. If high schools are a snapshot of society, the dynamic between this young man and the rest of the student body is definitely an anomaly. It’s magical (or in this case, spiritual).
He’s also a little quirky, talks too southern to understand sometimes, and always has a corny joke to tell that never is really funny. But you laugh anyway because he’s so endearing. That’s the kind of guy he is.
He recently came to see me with two envelopes with his school pictures peeping through the plastic window. He held one up then the other as he announced, “This is the one for the yearbook. … THIS is the one for my momma!” There was no difference in the two.
For the first time, I saw him genuinely upset. I pulled the pictures out for a closer look. Sure enough, both pictures were almost exactly the same. A head-and-shoulders shot typical of a pose for the yearbook.
“Where’s your bible?” I asked. “That’s what I’m wondering,” he answered in his Southern drawl.
The solution to the mystery was quite easy to deduce. The photographer never zoomed his camera out to accommodate the bible.
Hmmm … I could say much at this point about the symbolism of the mistake, but I’ll leave that interpretation up to the reader.
I will say this, however: the stand this young man makes at school every day is impressive and inspiring, and the security in his identity with which he walks is a security I wish more of us had.