The last few days have been full of excitement since school starts again on Monday. It’s my first day of high school and I’m excited because Mother is buying me a completely new wardrobe. I’m in the middle of analyzing my closets to see what I can pitch and what I can keep. My hand-me-downs go to a clothes closet for less-fortunate children and it makes me proud to give something to someone who will appreciate wearing them. I don’t let Mother know this but I sometimes give away one of my nicest dresses because I want someone else to feel as special as I did when I wore it.
In the background, Mother yells, “Jennifer, hurry up we’ve got to get to the Department Store before it closes and bring your clothes with you, I want to drop them off on the way. Be sure and get any coats you can’t wear and check out the shoes you won’t be wearing anymore.”
In a loud answering voice, “I’m almost finished Mother, all I have to do is pack the clothes into bags and I’ll be ready.”
I’m like all the other girls in town, searching for bargains and the right outfits. Girls search for hours looking for low cut jeans and tops to expose their pierced belly buttons. Mother looks at me anxiously as the other girls prance about in their low cut jeans and short-short mini-tops. She doesn’t say a word to me but I see it in her eyes exactly what she’s thinking, I hope you use better judgment in your selection. I browse around looking at various different types of jeans and tops, deciding on the ones not showing my navel and selecting tops that will come down over my jeans. I try them on and come out of the dressing room for Mother’s approval…the smile on her face lets me know my selection is first-class; I’ve please her with my choice as Mother nods her head, and she interjects, “Jennifer, I love your choice of clothing, all of them looks great on you.”
I grin and shyly look up at her, and say, “Thank you Mother…I’m glad you like them…I do too.”
The weekend goes by quickly; it’s Monday morning and I’m dressing for school. I put on a casual dress and pull my hair back. I walk to the bus stop; all the kids there are standing around in their new clothes. All of the girls have on their new low cuts and mini-tops exposing most of their bodies. One girl looks at me, and teases, “You’re not going to get a date dressed in those clothes…did you forget to dress in your school clothes this morning?” I want to cry but I hold my head up high and give her a kind smile. The girl looks at me, and says, “Are you laughing at me?”
I keep my eyes on her, and reply, “No, I’m trying to be friendly with you.”
She turns her head and cups her hand and starts whispering to the other girls and they all turn to laugh at me. I keep a smile on my face and don’t respond, but I don’t take my eyes off of them either. My first day of high school was absolutely miserable because in every class, the girls’ poked fun at me in my casual attire, little make-up, and my hair pulled back with a matching tieback. One girl comments, “You know Jennifer, you’re in high school now. You do know this is not grade school…I hope?”
I felt like I didn’t ever want to go back to school again. A big lump is in my throat, I squeeze back tears until I get off the school bus, and then the tears roll down my cheeks onto my blouse. As I stand under an oak tree in the shade, trying to get my composure before I get home, I see these initials engraved on the tree’s trunk, WWJD, I think about those initials all the way home but didn’t know what they meant. I made sure I was okay before I went into the house. I didn’t want my family to see the hurt on my face and the pain I felt in my heart. As I entered the house, I anxiously ask Mother, “What does WWJD mean? Have you ever heard these letters before?”
Mother looks at me questioningly, “Where did you see those letters written?”
“On an oak tree when I came home from school today.”
A smile, and an answer, “It means…What Would Jesus Do?”
The next morning, I put on my high cut jeans and a pullover top, leave for the bus stop. Arriving, the girls start to laugh and point at my pants and my top. I stand silent; tears are screaming at me to let them roll down my cheeks…I refuse, I hold them as tight as I can inside my lids. Then the girls ask, “Are you expecting a blizzard today…you’re wrapped up like it’s winter?”
I turn, look each of them square in their eyes, and reply, “What would Jesus want me to wear to school?”
The snickering girls hang their heads down and never once again have they poked fun at my clothing. Jesus saw my need and sent His message to let me know He was there and He was still in command.
Copyright 2007 Barbara Kasey Smith