We are taught a lot of things at the age of 13 by our churches and in our youth groups. I remember nights around the campfire at summer camp that profoundly changed the way I thought of Jesus. I remember hearing that my real identity was in Christ, not in whether boys liked me or what I looked like. Those were the lessons I remember being driven home the most. Because, as I know now, a girl’s self worth is one of the hardest fought battles in her lifetime. Our youth leaders knew this, so we talked about it a lot.
I have a friend who happens to be a rockstar— a strange and confusing word. And yet my friend is one of the more stable people I know.
He doesn’t get down too much when things don’t go his way, and he doesn’t get all that excited when they do. He’s a terrific listener, too, and wants to know more about you than he wants you to know about himself. In a culture that praises fame, my friend hardly notices.
He seems to see music as a service he offers, no different than a waiter bringing more water. He doesn’t think too much or too little of himself. And for the first few years I knew him, I just assumed he was one of those rare people who was given a heaping supply of wisdom and humility, and I think there might be some truth to that. But recently, I met one of the main reasons my friend is so emotionally stable and capable. I met his father.
On a chilly December morning several years ago, our family packed into the car and headed to church. When I pulled off the interstate, I saw a man sitting on the curb near the end of the exit ramp, holding a cardboard sign.
I was relieved that there was a car in front of me at the stoplight. Frankly, I was not in a good mood and was irritated that he was there. I heard an inner voice whispering something like “Who knows where he’ll spend that money.” So I stared forward, anxious for the light to change and annoyed to find out that this particular light was the first prizewinner in the “slowest light in the country” contest!
The driver’s window of the car in front of us opened.