The Giant Kid at the Bus Stop

yellow school busDo you remember junior high? Sorry, I know that was a painful question. We all remember those days (and not necessarily in a good way).

Here’s the thing: Where my house is located, I have a front row seat to the on-going pre-teen drama at the junior high bus stop . . . and frequent flashbacks of my own to that dreadful era:

  • How could I forget the kid with the unfortunate first name of Orville? No doubt his parents intended to honor some beloved relative by giving him that name. But Orville? He paid dearly for his parents’ choice to hang that one on him.
  • There was the overly tall, awkward guy everyone in the seventh grade called “Slow Monroe” and then snickered as though he couldn’t hear them. I hope he ended up a CEO somewhere.
  • I still remember Ellen in Mr. Hunter’s math class. She used too much Coppertone QT over the weekend and came to school with her face orange. Even the teacher had a field day at her expense. I’m not sure she ever lived it down.

This morning I saw three young boys at the bus stop outside my window, maybe sixth graders, laughing and punching each other as they waited for the bus. About two minutes before the bus arrived, here came a hulk of a boy – probably an eighth grader. He had on a jersey with an athletic brand logo, baggy pants, and that trademark scowl of a youngster trying to look cool. He was probably running late because he had to shave.

The atmosphere at the bus stop changed instantly. No one made eye contact but the dynamic shifted uncomfortably. The three little guys stopped their good-natured jousting while the giant kid in the jersey just stood there looking menacing. I’m sure there were silent calculations and comparisons going on among that group in those brief moments and I could imagine who came out on top. Mercifully, the bus pulled up and the rest of the unfolding drama was hidden from me.

But junior high memories came flooding back. Weren’t we all sorted and labelled (and sometimes dismissed) when we were that age? It was usually based on nothing we had chosen or could do anything about. We wanted desperately to measure up to some standard that no one could pinpoint but everyone somehow knew. Many of us just tried mightily to fly under the radar so we wouldn’t attract the kind of scrutiny suffered by our weaker classmates.

We haven’t really outgrown that, you and I. We still do that to each other, that labeling and categorizing (and dismissing). It’s just that we’ve become more subtle about it and sometimes we can fool even ourselves into thinking we’ve risen above such behavior. But it’s there. And it’s sin.

The English poet John Donne once wrote, “Consider the value, the price of a human soul. It is precious because it is entered into your revenue and made a part of your treasure.”

That’s both sobering and thrilling to think about, that when God tallies His riches, He enters all the scrawny sixth-graders, the intimidating “giants”, the Orvilles, Monroes, Ellens – and each of us –  in the “assets” column. He considers every human soul to have enormous value and worth, so much so that He relentlessly draws us to Himself and when we respond, He is honored and delighted.

“As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:3)

I love that.


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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

6 thoughts on “The Giant Kid at the Bus Stop”

  1. I have flat feet…it started in elementary school…the “quack quack” when I walked by. I was tall, with stringy hair and boney build – the ugly duckling. But…as my aunt pointed out, when I hit the 11th grade, the duckling turned into a swan. I had more dates than I could keep up with. I had the last laugh, really…kat

    1. Excellent! What a great story. And isn’t it true that more often than not, the ones who got picked on did just fine later in life. It’s just hard to imagine that when you’re on the receiving end. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Well said! I think for most of us, that age was the least pleasant time in our lives. So many changes with so much pressure. It was also hard to see my children through this. You want to fast forward those years, but they grind along at their own pace, with little moments of grace here and there.

    1. Oh, yes, it was hard to see my daughter go through this, too. The little moments of grace were there but seemed few and far between at the time. She came through it just fine, as did I, but I doubt there is anyone who would repeat those years if given the chance.

  3. Of course I remember junior high – you and I were in Mrs. Greenberg’s Journalism class together. I think I was one of those that tried to fly under the radar. I really dislike the labels we as people tend to put on others and then dismiss as not worth our time. Great article – will wait for the next one!!!

    1. Was that where we met? That class was one of my favorites. As I recall, we were on the newspaper staff and the experience helped me discover my love of writing. In that regard, junior high wasn’t a total washout: I cam away with a lifelong friendship and an enduring love of words. Thanks for your comment and the good memory!

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