How a Nickname Pushed my Faith Through my Questioning Times

Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash
Nicknames are something that stick with us forever, I feel. They mark a time of our history and bring back memories that either make you laugh, or cry - sometimes both.

Personally, I don't typically think of nicknames as anything helpful. They can definitely boost your self-esteem, if given the right one. Or they can absolutely destroy you if you are the victim of bullying; but I've never thought of a nickname as encouraging until recently.

I was thinking about my faith, the freedom that I've recently discovered, and the peace that came after moving into our new home. I began thinking back further, over my struggles and times of questioning and discovering what my faith is and how I walk it out, and I was reminded of my gym teacher.

When I was in 5th grade, I believe, the school district hired a new phy-ed teacher. He quickly became everyone's favorite, he was friendly, encouraging, and made you feel comfortable around him. I took all the gym classes that I could once I got to middle school and high school, so I saw him frequently.

It didn't take long after gym started in the beginning of the year for him to christen me, "Smiley." I was a very naturally joyful person for the most part, and since I loved gym class, felt free, and comfortable there, it was easy for me to have a smile.

The nickname stuck and for YEARS after that, every time our paths crossed, he would greet me with the nickname, "Smiley."

As I fought through trials and struggles, on days that I didn't feel like smiling, Mr. Fitz would come to mind, and I'd think of how I didn't want to lose that name, or disappoint him by not being "Smiley." So I'd do my best to push through my cloudy mood and find a smile.

It occurred to me the other day that having that nickname, and the respect and appreciation that I had for him, kept me from plummeting into complete darkness and discouragement. It seemed, that no matter what the students thought of me, or were passing around about me, that gym teacher overlooked it, didn't care, or never heard so he just kept right on greeting me in a friendly way with, "There's that smile!" or "Good to see you today, Smiley!" or "Hi, Smiley!"

I didn't want to lose that, and I knew that the only way to retain my smile was to dig into the one that gave it to me in the first place, Jesus.

So I kept pushing on. I kept striving to find my smile through Jesus and fighting for my relationship with Him to continue. I pressed on to reignite my joyful spirit through bettering my relationship with my heavenly Father.

Because of a nickname that my gym teacher gave me.

No comments