I never rode a yellow school bus as a student. My grammar school didn’t have bus service, so my sister, brother and I walked almost a mile to and from our classes. In high school, I graduated to the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), the big cream and green buses that hauled students, mothers and workers. Yellow school buses were reserved for special days, like field trips or rides to choir concert venues.
Maybe it is a good thing I had to walk to grammar school because those years were an awkward time. My insecurities ran rampant mostly because my sister, my so-not-like-me-at-all sister, was only one grade ahead of me.
Did I mention she was perfect? Where she was neat, I was sloppy; where she was quiet and demure, I was loud and boisterous; where she was polite, I pushed the envelope close to rudeness. The voices of teachers asking me, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” still ring in my ears even today – many, many years later.
The school bus would have been just one more place for taunts, another opportunity to be teased and tormented. Walking was tough, but the walk never reminded I was a complete failure. You’d think I’d get over it, but some wounds are deep. Scars remain.
Yet, those scars and other wounds have led me to the most intimate conversations with God. My humiliation drives me to my knees and I pray, “God, I need your perspective. My hurts are suffocating me. I am utterly dependent on you. I bring these hurts and lay them at your feet.” And when I am humble before Him, He rewards me with moments of sheer joy.
Joy when He whispers back to me, “You are my daughter. I love you just as you are. I’m beside you and I will give you strength.” He lifts my spirits with His nearness. He restores my honor with His love. Instead of criticism, He offers me tenderness and inclusion.
Joy occurs when I find my identity in God and not in my circumstances. When I am dependent on Him, I’m fearless. When I am faithful to Him, I lose my worry and anxiety. It is only in Him that I can embrace life. When I look beyond the criticism and negativity of the world, I see God’s best for me. And even though my spirit is scarred, I see the future as incredibly inviting and bright.
Maybe as bright as a big, yellow school bus.