Like most, junior high was difficult for me. I tried to belong somewhere, some how, with somebody. I fell in with the (semi)athletic crowd. I say it that way because I was also pretty academically oriented and thus helped a lot of people with their math homework on the way to and from basketball games. My wife, at times, says I have a "pleaser" tendency. This is where I really first saw this about myself.
Playing ball and trying to stay in the cool crowd marked my junior high days. We were still in church but it didn't really mean much. I was much more worried about being able to sing the right harmony notes from the hymnal than the words that I was singing or the God to whom I was singing.
All of this changed when I met Jon. I met Jon during my freshman year. He was the first person I knew who didn't try to fit his faith (or alleged faith) into his life but wrapped his life around his faith. It was an outstanding example for me to follow. I often think about those days and how God shaped me in those moments.
Funny enough, Jon and I don't share much in common these days. He leans left, I lean right. He's hip and trendy, I've had the same haircut since the Reagan administration. The things I've always appreciated about him: he's irenic and has integrity. We don't see eye-to-eye on much of anything - politics, theology, the value of tattoos, etc. But every discussion we've ever had has been marked by peace, he being the carrier of that. And he has integrity, meaning what he says he believes and what he believes he lives. We may not agree on everything he says or believes or lives, but there is no questioning his integrity.
And that's how God set me on the course to be who I am today. Crazy, huh?