We moved down from Maryland the year before. I was an eighth grader and things were getting a little easier. I had friends to giggle with. The tiny town wasn’t feeling quite so suffocating.  

Having grown up in a D.C. suburb, I was used to having my senses assaulted anytime I stepped out of the house. Traffic, stores, noise, go, go, go. It was all I knew. Life in this laid-back, north Florida beach town was completely different. It was two-lane roads, empty of life, but for a crossing turtle or two.  

Sort of like living on Mars.

Being 12 when we moved, I hated life there. Hated it. Planned my getaway daily. Georgetown would be my out. Eventually I was hit with the reality of GPA’s and private college costs, but for that time, my understanding parents let me believe for the impossible.

I tried to make the best of it. Made wonderful friends, and enjoyed what I would allow myself to, without feeling like a traitor to my plans.

One of the highlights of my eighth grade year came the day I got my braces off. The school year had barely begun and I was excited.

The next day I woke up ready to show everyone. I had straight, BRACE-FREE teeth. I was beside myself. The whole day, despite my Cheshire Cat smiles, I can count on one hand the number of people who said anything.  

No one noticed.

Then, walking down the hallway, and I heard a thick southern accent say, “You got your braces off, Christina!” I nearly fainted when I saw it was Mr. Taylor, the principal.

Never had I so much as said more than “hello.” I’d only been at the school for one year, and here, he knew my name (ok, ok, with an “A” on the end – but in all fairness, I think the way my name is said by some, especially in the south, it causes the “e” to become an “a” – we’ll just go with it for the sake of this post …), AND noticed I had my braces removed.  

The principal noticed me. On one of the biggest days, he saw me.  

I wasn’t just another face in the hall.

To this day, I’m not sure how he knew who I was.

The Bible tells a story of Zacchaeus, who climbed the tree to get a glimpse of Jesus as He went by, on His journey to Jerusalem. The crowd was heavy and Zacchaeus wasn’t tall enough to look over everyone, so he did what he could, and hoped to see Jesus, if only for a second.  

Then Jesus, looked up at him and called him by name. Told him to come down and said he would stay at his house that night.  

Jesus noticed him.

He wasn’t just another face in the crowd.

Years later, barely into my freshman year of college, I remember walking into the dorms, and seeing a classmate from my hometown, sitting in tears. When I asked what was wrong, she told me the shocking news.

Mr. Taylor had died in a horrible automobile accident.

It was just unthinkable that someone like him could be gone.

{Sometimes I still cry about it.}

I’d later come to find out, as people were reminiscing, and newspaper articles reported, everyone he met seemed to have their own version of the braces story.

No matter how short a time we’ve walked the halls, or how many people in the crowd, God sees you. God sees me. God saw Mr. Taylor driving that day.  

And rather than invite Himself over, He called Mr. Taylor to His house.  

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *