Today we have another interview, this time with my friend Dahlia.
Welcome Dahlia! Can you tell us about your testimony?
I became a Christian around 7th grade during the Covid pandemic, so the spring of 2020. My whole life, I claimed to be a Christian but I wasn’t really following Jesus. I didn’t read His word and I didn’t even know basic Bible stories very well. My family mostly claims to be Christians, but they’re not living like it–like how I was.
I’ve been a Christian for almost 3 years. I had some Christian friends in cross country and track who helped guide me in the right way. I was fresh and didn’t really know what to expect when I first put my faith in Jesus. I wasn’t even really reading the Bible—I was listening to people talk about God on TikTok, which isn’t the best. That led to a lot of fear-based obedience—the things I was doing weren’t out of love for God, but because I didn’t want to go to Hell. I still struggle with that now—legalism, perfectionism, and making sure I’m doing things out of my love for God. At the same time, I try to have a healthy fear for God but not constantly fear that I’m going to Hell.
That’s a great testimony. From our conversations, I know that you understand that what you do in school reflects God and has an impact on others. Could you talk about that?
Before I became a Christian, and even now, people around me influenced me. I would change the way I would act, maybe even how I would dress, how I would talk, or the things I would do. I would do it to glorify myself, make myself look better, or have more friends. How you’re living in school as a Christian is very important, because whether you realize it or not, you have a positive or negative impact on someone.
A lot of people had a negative impact on me [before I was a Christian]. If I was surrounded daily by Christians who love Jesus and follow Him, I probably would have started following Jesus sooner. The great commission (make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) has to do with how we act every single day. Whatever you say or do, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus because people are going to see that. If you laugh at inappropriate jokes, which is something that I struggle with, or say things to glorify yourself instead of Jesus, that’s going to show. But if you are constantly a light and put a smile on your face, that’s going to point people to Jesus.
The other day, a non-Christian friend came up to me and told me, “I don’t know how you do it, but you’re always so nice to everyone.” I was shocked and I was like, “First of all, that’s such a compliment.” I told her, “It’s all Jesus.” Whether she realized it or not, it is all Jesus. There’s no way I could be nice to people that I don’t want to be if it wasn’t for Jesus and His grace. Planting a seed, whether it’s smiling at someone or being nice to people even when you don’t really want to be, can really change someone.
Yes. A lot of us don’t realize how big of an impact we have, but people really do notice. Do you have any stories related to being a Christian in public school that you could share with us?
I was in marching band and was wearing a shirt that said God is good all the time. We were doing the full run of the show and I was running to my spot, and the guy near me said, “God is good.” He said it in almost a mocking way. Honestly, it put a smile on my face because whether you’re making fun of me or not, I have nothing to be ashamed of. The biggest compliment is someone knowing you follow Jesus and you love Him, even if that means they don’t like you. If people hate you for following Jesus, it is a blessing because Jesus told us not to be surprised if people hate us because they hated Him first. I’m not here [in the world] to follow people, I’m here to share the Lord. What the guy said is a compliment and it makes me want to serve Jesus more because maybe I’m doing something right.
In science class, I sit with people who aren’t Christians, at least not from what I can see. That class is a trial because sometimes I’m tempted to laugh at certain jokes I should not be laughing at because they’re not glorifying to God. That’s one trial I have to overcome.
You are a Christian influence in public school. Putting a smile on your face, not conforming, and not laughing at the things other kids laugh at and doing the things they do has an impact on them, whether you realize it or not.
On the first day of school, my civics teacher was asking what kind of music we liked to listen to. You raised your hand whenever he named the music you liked. He said rap, pop, and he mentioned gospel. I said gospel. I think I was the only one who raised my hand and he was like, “Gospel?” He was surprised and I said, “Yeah!” I put a smile on my face and was like, “Yeah, I’m not ashamed of that!” A smile really impacts someone.
Have you ever dealt with a dislike of going to school? Do you think it is a bad thing? If so, how did (or how are) you overcoming it?
I dealt with this at the end of freshman year, especially in my math class. It was the end of the school year so I was also tired from work. Again, I struggle with perfectionism and legalism, so I tend to beat myself up a lot when I fall into temptation. One mistake or sin tends to burden me and have an effect on me for a while even after I’ve repented of it. I was just not wanting to go to school near the end of the school year, because I was surrounded by people there who would influence me in not the best way.
Something my youth pastor has had to tell me is that other people’s sins are not your sins. Whether it was subconsciously or not, when I was around other people and they were doing something like treating other people badly or saying inappropriate things, it grieved me almost like I was sinning myself. I was taking it out on myself partially, repenting even though I was not the one who sinned. Being around that kind of thing just doesn’t feel right, so I was exhausted, and I did not want to go to school.
I would read the Bible before class started, when I had free time. That had a positive effect on my friend who is a Christian. She told me that reading my Bible in class reminded her that she has something to stand for—God. We’re representing Jesus. That was encouraging to me. I try to make sure that I’m loving others even when I’m frustrated or being tempted. I also try to make sure that I’m not judging them, which is hard.
Do you have any last advice or encouragement for public-schooled Christians?
Surround yourself with godly people—whether you haven’t found a church, you’re new to a school, maybe new to the area, or maybe you’ve been there for a while. It can be really nerve-racking to go to a new church or youth group if you’ve never been to one and meet new people, but if you find a good church, it is such a blessing. If I didn’t have my church, I don’t know where I’d be because they help me so much with my perfectionism and legalism. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). When you surround yourself with godly people, you’ll start acting more like godly people.
Also, share each other’s [fellow Christians’] burdens. That helps more than you may realize—we’re not meant to do this life alone. Surround yourself with people who bring you closer to Christ, and remember that you’re not alone because Christians all around the world are struggling with the same things as you. You’re not going to be perfect, but Jesus is so good.
Thank you, Dahlia! It was a pleasure talking with you :).
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