When I walked into my first District meeting I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to stick. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t know much of anything. That was when I met Jonathan Baggett and I learned how much people matter. I really and truly didn’t know him that well, he knew me even less. But he changed my life. He was really the first young person I met that was passionate about ministry and but not afraid of it. I was always afraid. Our DSLT was basically just him. He had a binder and was all-together always. And no girl from Epworth could truthfully deny thinking he was beautiful the first they met him. When Jonathan passed away, we all left church after Joys and Concerns. We went to the newly remodeled bathroom and cried and I looked at Lacy and just asked her why it had to be him, when he could’ve done so much. And neither of us knew why. But then I didn’t realize how much he had already done. Each person that Jonathan touched, even people he barely knew, goes on to touch others. And they are truly being touched by Jonathan, too.
There are so many people that have changed who I am solely by being who they are. Matt Epting is so level-headed and always considers things like what a white t-shirt ACTUALLY looks like or what’s going to happen if it rains. Knowing him has brought me down to Earth and made me realize how far practicality goes. Katie Lewis is completely enveloped in God’s Word and her faith falls off of her like she’s a flower girl, out of everyone I’ve ever met, no one is more sure of who and whose she is. Just seeing this in her has made me so much more comfortable with my faith and calling. She radiates such peace that just makes you feel okay with yourself. Ethan Gregory knows exactly what he believes, what he thinks and is concrete in all things Wesleyan. I don’t know anyone our age that just has the things he has figured out, figured out. He has been there for me on the days that were the most crucial I had some one to talk to, and probably has no idea how much courage he has given me just by being sensible and faithful. I would not be at the place in my faith I am if I had never met him. Stef Schutz is able to balance like 5 different lives and funnel them into one without losing any of the God involved. I never realized how much I was capable of until I saw how much she does and how much passion radiates out of her. Shawnee Davis is essentially LIFE. Everything is exciting, wonderful and magical in her eyes. She is open to big ideas and can make anything happen. Shawnee makes fasting fun. Sometimes I feel like the world misses out on how much FUN God is, but not when Shawnee is around. All my beautiful favorites amaze me everyday. I am so blessed to have such a giant, strong community of accountability and encouragement surrounding me. I learn something from this guys every time I talk to them or see their bright and shining faces. Student Leadership Team is nearly the definition fo Providence in my life. It is hard NOT to see God when you watch this students doing what they do. Even the ones who are reading this right now thinking that they haven’t changed me are wrong. Because it really has been all of you.
My first conversation with Carly Payne included wild tangents about how she would be called Pastor Payne when she grew up, how I would become friends with a lamppost if left alone long enough and how her favorite crayon is Jazzberry jam because she likes the name. We got out driver’s license the same week (in August) even though our birthdays were both in February. God’s existence is continually reassured to me in my life. Carly Payne is one of those assurances. It would be impossible for any force besides God to create some one as weird as Marianne Brown, AND someone as weird as Carly Payne and bring them together to be best friends. My faith cannot be shaken when I have someone so strong and inspired in my life. Some nights I can come home from church or youth or school or driving and promise myself I will never go back. But Carly always makes me want to go back with the love and passion and excitement as I did the very first time. Whenever I see “if your heart is like mine, take my hand” I think of Carly. Her heart truly is like mine and there is no doubt in my mind that if I lost everyone, Carly would still be there.
I guess what I’m getting at is I love my life and the people God has put in it. And people matter. When you get to be old enough to finally realize it, you see how you like a little collage of all the people that have touched you. I have my dad’s nose. I eat fritos on my tuna fish sandwhiches like my mom. I worry about awkward situations with carhops at sonic like Katie. I will watch Remember the Titans a million times without it being any less thasn I expect everytime, just like Emily. I journal like Amy. I doodle and take notes on everything like Lacy. Half the occurences in my life make me think “this will be a great sermon illustration”, like Ethan. All these people have changed who I am and where I’m going. Even the ones I barely knew. I can only hope, that some day when the people in my life look around at themselves, they see that their voice is louder or they use the word ridiculous to mean a good thing, or they are just different because they were touched by me too.