In 7th grade my new school’s classmates were at Louisville Country Day – an all-boys college-prep private school. Some I had known before; many started together in kindergarten; a few became my close friends. Like most adolescents I didn’t feel I fully fit in. My Enneagram 2 personality had interesting reactions from the boys and my 3-wing competition for success was fierce.
People at church became my people as I grew closer to my youth group friends. I led two different lives – school and church. Church was where I was accepted, became a leader, and met the girls I’d date through high school.
Our youth group leaders were students at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. One would later become my professor of New Testament Greek and preaching when I went to Union Seminary in Richmond. Another kept me alive as he taught me about life.
When my parents traveled for two weeks, he and his wife stayed with me. On a hike he kept me alive by seeing a resting copperhead snake in my path and throwing me over it just before I stepped on it. They taught me about life by how they lived. Their tiny seminary apartment, the food they cooked, and the way they lived was simply different than all the huge houses I’d visited, the feasts I’d eaten, and the country club life I’d experienced.
They introduced me to seminary debt for a career whose rewards are not financial. Whether by circumstance or choice, they showed me how to live simply so others can simply live. I’d overhear the gospel when friends dropped by from their caring community. I caught a glimpse of being fully committed to something greater than myself. As I was beginning to discover me, I lived with and learned from a couple making a path on a very different road than I’d known.
What is your experience of learning about differences in people, cultures, and ways of living? Who showed you a road less traveled by? When did you first learn that less is more? How do you understand and appreciate differences in others?