. . . and then some more . . . More life. More Jesus.

The Boy on the 303

I stepped on the bus, flashed my ticket to the driver, and found it relatively sparse. Especially compared to the morning’s rush-hour squish that’s becoming more routine than nuisance.

After earning the driver’s welcome-aboard nod, I chose my seat carefully, avoiding the kid in the middle. The Boy whose noontime presence on the 303 makes me nervous.

The first time I rode with him, he wandered among us passengers. Holding onto his backpack strings, saying three numbers over and over.

Eins null drei. Eins null drei. He said other stuff, too. Stuff I didn’t understand.

Muttering, the boy approached my fellow bus-riders and tried to make eye contact. He walked up to a lady and touched her like she was his mama. She wasn’t.

Then he wandered away, to the front of the bus. I grew tense with an anxious kind of fear.

Something was wrong with this boy, and he was alone on my bus. He was troubled. That troubled me.

I had no idea how to help him, should he need it, and I didn’t know what the heck I would say if he talked to me. Certainly, he wouldn’t understand my broken-German or the fact that I could barely understand his words.

The Boy made me nervous that day with his wandering and his unknown words. I envisioned a total freak-out, a seizure, a question he might ask.

Most people wouldn’t think twice about that kind of stuff, but it shook me in my boots. Made me wish for different circumstances. Made me wonder what the heck I was doing on this bus in this foreign land.

That was the day I first saw The Boy. I have avoided him every day since.

So today, when I saw him, I continued the streak, finding a seat near the front next to a normal-looking elderly lady. Another successful avoidance.

What is it about people I don’t understand that makes them seem so scary? And why, in my mind, do I treat such people as if they are less than that, not worthy of dignity, my respect, my eye-contact?

It’s not just The Boy. It’s the man with the deformed face. The woman with no legs.

And what is it about the scary that keeps me from seeing them as people?

Why am I so scared to just look them in the eyes? Just validate their presence? Who am I to withhold dignity from someone just because I don’t understand their problems? Who am I to refuse them love?

When an elderly woman stepped onto the bus, I realized she had no seat. So I gave her mine. Because that’s what I do. I willingly give up my seat to those I deem worthy, while fearfully holding back eye-contact from another.

I let my fear of The Boy hole me up. Let it blind me with a tunnel-vision. Let it keep me from seeing over the wall called “I Don’t Understand.”

That’s when I realized I’d have to face my fear and stand near The Boy. Why I was so unwilling to let that elderly lady suffer having to stand up when I wasn’t even willing to give a smile to a little boy with problems?

I stood up casually and headed to the back. But the back of the bus was full by now, so I had to stand in the middle. Right next to The Boy.

He wobbled a bit as he wandered towards the front, the bus turning a corner on the cobblestone street. My heart sunk as I smelled my own stink.

For the first time, I saw The Boy as a person. For the first time, I noticed that the one I’d been afraid of, was himself just a scared little boy.  A young boy in a hat. Backpack full of school supplies. And a mind full of three repeating little words. A little boy, no more than eight years old, alone on a city bus and a little bit confused.

I wondered at my self-centered fear that kept me looking to protect myself instead of seeking to reach out and show him love. Kept me looking inward at all the things I don’t want to face instead of gazing outward for someone I can serve.

A little boy I can love. Even with just a smile unafraid that communicates the grace of Jesus Christ to a little boy alone on a city bus.

Are there fears that hole you up and keep you from showing Jesus’ grace?

11 Thoughts on “The Boy on the 303

  1. Melanie O on October 22, 2012 at 5:21 am said:


  2. Whew. Those are some heavy words, because I’ve been there. I too find people who seem different, loud or unwashed or rough around the edges, scary. I know they’re probably perfect nice human beings, but I always think that maybe, just maybe, they’re some sort of stalker serial killers. I was thinking this in Wal Mart the other day and then I remembered Ted Bundy was a good looking white guy. Sigh. There is actually a biological basis for this, but I still don’t have to like it.

    • Yes. I know exactly what you mean, Anna. It’s so hard because Jesus is so good at loving them. And at the same time, He gave us intuition, I believe, to use common sense kind of fear for protection sometimes. But when the needy are scared little boys, or ladies with no legs, my intuition gets drowned out by my fear a lot of times. So glad to know I’m not alone on this. And I really want to know how to do the unafraid when there is a scary someone like a Ted Bundy. (Sigh. Like you said.)

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  7. Heart wrenching Brianna. I have so many fears, maybe not the same ones as you but I understand what you mean. I guess we’re all like that, and I guess that’s why He kept saying “Fear not.”

  8. Brianna, this is my new favorite post of yours. Oh how much we can all relate. My cousin has down syndrome and I have seen how some fear her. Most love her. Last year we went to the Special Olympics, and yes, it is scary for some reason to really look at the ones who are so different. That drool, and wave spastically. Uncertain behaviors, not socially acceptable. Yet, the biggest loving unselfish hearts I have ever witnessed

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