I met Linda when I was consumed with anxiety and trying to tame wild children in a classroom. Linda was a calm in the midst of the storm. Her soothing voice and welcoming eyes gave me a safe place to land. Our friendship came easily, and to this day, I still admire her perfect juxtaposition of relentless kindness and ruthless perseverance. Not to mention, we both love art too.
Today, she remains a successful science teacher, a very talented artist and a sweet friend… and so much more.
Looking back on my life, I feel as though I am a seed.
A seed that was planted in hard soil.
One that waited a long time to grow.
A seed that is just now reaching for the light.
People who know me now would laugh, but for much of my life, I was not social. I was sheltered.
Afraid of talking to people.
And in the middle of my struggle, I found an unexpected lifeline.
Already feeling stretched thin, I went to a meeting for a volunteer organization. I never knew how facing my apprehension of conversation would change me.
I found that heart-to-hearts with strangers led me to God’s own heart.
Conversations with every person, no matter their struggles or successes, made for a richer world than the insular, selfish place I had trapped myself in.
They didn’t assign me value because of the grades I earned, or the coursework I took.
It was time.
The time spent with them reflected me,
for better or for worse,
just like a mirror.
So, I decided to try to be better.
To inquire. To learn their stories. To laugh with them. To cry with them.
I felt my heart take deeper and deeper roots as they showed me God’s love.
President Jimmy Carter wrote about meeting a Cuban-American pastor named Eloy Cruz in his book, Living Faith. In it, he was amazed at Pastor Cruz’s gentle, simple words and intimacy with strangers he had just met.
Pastor Cruz followed a simple rule: “You only have to have two loves in your life – for God, and for the person in front of you at any particular time.”
When you hear me strike up a conversation, please know that it is from a place of both fear and love.
Fear led me to love, and that love has helped me grow more into the person I am today.
I am fully loved, and aim to truly love others in what I do.
A seed, after all, can remain in the soil or burst forth with life, with care. On the other side of fear, there is boundless light and possibility – if we will only let it in.
Follow Linda on Instagram – @lindandion