Thursday, October 6, 2016

Standing Alone

I couldn’t help but be moved by the image of the boy standing alone at the flagpole that showed up in my newsfeed this week. If you haven’t read the story, I encourage you to do so. It was quite touching and was an instant hit of sunshine in the sometimes cold, dreary landscape social media has become.

But there, in an American flag t-shirt embellished with a cross, a gangly young man stood his ground solo at his school’s See-you-at-the-pole gathering. His prayer slamming me between the eyes…  

“God, as people drive by, let them wonder, let their hearts be pricked.”

Right then I was reminded of the power of our actions. As a writer, I tend to view myself as a “words” girl. And as a Christian and a mother, I do my best to speak words that are edifying, even when my opinions or my impatience beg I unleash sentiments far more cathartic for the occasion. I pray my actions speak when my words are absent, but very seldom do I find myself standing alone. Simply standing and letting words that would fall on deaf ears be replaced by positing myself for all to see.

Here I am, Lord. Use me.

I often hide behind social acceptability. My comfort zone is seldom stretched in the real world. The words from my laptop might be bold, but how often do I shut up enough to let God speak through me in my everyday interactions?

In the article, the mother of the boy went on to say …

My son says at first, he thought he would simply pray until someone else came along. 
Eventually, he realized no one else was coming. Then, the cry of his heart changed. 
He asked that God would do something with his standing alone.

I was sharing the story with my five-year-old son, explaining how much courage that took to not only stand up for God while other’s looked on, but to do so without support.

Peer pressure affects people of all ages. My kindergartner is learning firsthand what seems cool and what draws attention he may not want. Even as an adult, it’s impossible to avoid social pressures and expectations, especially when tensions are strung so high and tempers so unexpectedly volatile.

My five-year-old admitted that standing alone would have been hard. Scary. Yet he also acknowledged that if the boy had “chickened out” we wouldn’t have heard his story. He wouldn’t have inspired so many people. He didn’t have to say anything. He stood for Jesus. 

Simply stood.

It made me realize how quickly we disqualify ourselves. Maybe we’re not well versed or particularly talented. Maybe we have virtually no platform or feel too small to make waves. Let me tell you something... No one is under-qualified to make a difference. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of seemingly inadequate individuals being called and promoted for His glory. 

I profess to be a believer but I often get slammed for peeling back the layer of politeness in my stories and exposing the gritty reality we live in. My honesty can be jarring, and I won’t apologize for integrating a view of God’s perfect grace in an imperfect world. But this young boy’s story stopped me enough to think about myself outside my identity as a words girl. Are there times when I could be better heard if I stopped speaking and instead chose to just stand in the truth?

Now, I’m not saying God can’t or isn’t using our words. He is and He does. Mightily. But I am up to taking a new challenge, of standing, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s unpopular. Even if I’m the only one bowing my head to pray. And I’m empowered and excited to find more opportunities to make my stand.

Something to chew on: Words are powerful. Undeniably so. But they say actions speak louder. Is there an instance in your life where this proved true? And have you ever had to take a stand for your faith?

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Amy Leigh Simpson writes romantic mysteries with honesty and humor, sweetness and spice, and gritty reality covered by grace. When she’s not stealing moments at naptime to squeeze out a few more adventures in storyland, she’s chasing around two tow-headed miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with one sweet princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most swoon-worthy man alive. Amy is a Midwestern-girl, a singer, blogger, runner, coffee-addict, and foodie. Her Sports Medicine degree is wasted patching up daily boo boo’s, but whatever is left usually finds its way onto the page with fluttering hearts, blood and guts, and scars that lead to happily ever after.

Check out her NEW romantic mystery novel FROM WINTER'S ASHES! Available NOW!


Debbie Stehlick said...

Loved this post, and the story of the young man!

Angie Dicken said...

Great post, Amy! I have a hard time second guessing how I come off to people. I think I step out, but then shrink back and play it safe...not necessarily in my writing, but in other aspects of my life. This is good food for thought!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

So inspiring! I read his story several times! <3

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I do too! I check myself and think, can they tell? Am I being His hands and feet? Thanks for sharing this, Ang!

Pepper said...

Isn't there an old quote by St Augustine that says "Preach Jesus. If necessary, use words" ?
I'm not discounting words either. Jesus is called the Word in flesh, but in some cases a picture is truly worth 1000 words. Thanks for this poignant and convicting post, Amy

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Ha! Never heard that quote! Totally awesome!

Krista Phillips said...


I read that story too and was definitely moved. AND I kinda wish he lived closer so I could introduce him to my daughter! (well, maybe in like 5 years or something, HAHAHA.) Being a teenager is tough and being a teenager sold out for Jesus in the public school system is even tougher. (My sweet on-fire-for-Jesus 15 year old had a girl look at her with utter disgust the other day and say, "Ugh, you're a Christian? I low-key hate Christians." My daughter smiled and said, "That's okay. You're allowed to. It's just who I am.")

Unknown said...

It's rather unfortunate that we live in a society which claims to be "all inclusive," yet children are often shamed for standing up for their religious beliefs in school. It's important to stay true to oneself; this article is a great reminder that even one voice can make a world of a difference.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Amy, what a beautiful post. The story of the young man moved me to tears. Makes me pray my boys will be that fervent in their faith too.

I think of myself as a words-girl too. But you're so right. Sometimes our actions do our speaking for us, and far more effectively. May we shine Jesus' light into the world around us, through our actions toward others, and when God gives opportunities, through our words.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...


Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Exactly :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

It was such a good reminder. I'm praying for this kind of faith and courage in my kids too :)

kaybee said...

Thank you, Amy.
Krista, I agree. It is even more stunning when we take into account that he did it at a HIGH SCHOOL, where you can be shamed for wearing the wrong brand of shoelace.
I have not always presented Christ in my secular jobs and for that I am truly regretful. I got dragged down by circumstances. I'm mostly freelance and "gig economy" now, so I don't have people constantly rubbing up against me. I do the job, it's over, I go on. I also regret not having been more Christlike in my family life. Here's the thing, Family Forgives. Mostly.
Have a good day if I don't get back again,
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

Angie, I play it safe too, and I don't think that's what He wants for us. Thank you for your honesty.