This I Believe: Jesus Would Not Be Standing on a Street Corner Holding A Sign


Nora Thompson and Mekayla Phan

Nora Thompson is a cross – country runner, theater actress, the Cougart editor for The Paper Cut, and plays cello in Orchestra. She’s a dog person, but loves all animals. After high school she wants to attend ASU. Thompson writes about her belief about taking action for yourself rather than telling others to do it for you instead.

When I was seven or eight my mother and I drove by those people you see on street corners who hold signs advocating for Jesus. Their signs said things like “Jesus Sees” or “God’s Glory heals all.” My mother turned to me and asked if I thought Jesus would be that excited about his disciples trying to change people’s opinions from the street as opposed to direct communication. I shrugged, the only thing I learned in my Sunday school class had been that you got Skittles for knowing the books of the Bible. This conversation was best saved for another day, maybe after a theology course. My mom never let it go though, she ranted and raved becoming the Poster Child for the exact reaction the sign holders wanted.

I’m not a religious person. I don’t think that it belongs anywhere outside of the sanctuary. But I don’t believe that Jesus was the type of guy to be on a street corner trying to get a ruse out of people. Jesus would be out getting his hands dirty, trying to help in any way he could.

It’s so much easier to try and compel others to action than it is to do it yourself. I assume this is why they had those big campaigns in middle school about “not being a bystander”, telling us “If you see someone being bullied, you have to stop it” which is a lot of responsibility to put on a twelve year old. Not to mention a lot of bullying happened and teachers weren’t able to do much.

In seventh grade we had this counselor, he was 5’9  and really more of a marshmallow than a man. He was useless as an administrator and had a fuse of about thirty seconds. Our principal put him up to talking to all the classes about the fighting that was going on, since middle school was essentially a prison and we all had to get into violence to stay relevant. The school had a dumb policy that if someone got jumped, they still would get punished for fighting, even if they didn’t want to be in the fight in the first place.

This counselor, who I’ll call Mr. Marshmallow because I can’t remember his name, talked at us for a good twenty minutes about how if we got into a fight we’d not only get suspended, but expelled. Then he went on to tell us not to hit anyone at all because we’d get into so much trouble. Seriously, if we even thought about it – Boom! You’re out of there! Expelled!

“I want to show them what a girl fight looks like. You’re the bully, and I’m the victim. Okay? I want you to be mean to me, make fun of me even call me the B-word. Okay? And then I want you to slap me as hard as you can across the face.”

I was expected to hit Mr. Marshmallow after a 20 – minute lecture on how badly I’d get it if I hurt anyone.

Did I end up physically assaulting my 7th grade counselor? No, I kind of got confused and sat down. Luckily this girl Emily, who was much better equipped for violence, volunteered to leave her hand print on Mr. Marshmallow.

I learned three things from this experience:

  1. Mr. Marshmallow had no idea how to properly convey a message to middle schoolers.
  2. If you’re getting jumped, you might as well get a few good punches in considering your fate is sealed. That is no time to take the high road.
  3. It was easy for Mr. Marshmallow to sit on his pedestal and talk down to us. His words went in one ear and into the garbage. He wasn’t preventing anything, he was only perpetuating the us versus them mentality that all middle schoolers possess against authority figures. Maybe if he’d taken the time to look into the home life of troubled girls and done what he could to help, Mr. Marshmallow might have made progress.

Mr. Marshmallow was playing the role of a sign holder when we really needed a Jesus.

I’ve always struggled to be the person making a difference, trying to get off of my soap box to accept other people as well as myself. To be as selfless and empathetic as my interpretation of Jesus. It’s an uphill battle. I’m an imperfect person, but I always do my best to remember: Jesus would be with the person whose sign reads “Anything helps” not “Praise Jesus.”