By Christina Dotson
“So how does it feel to earn your first Pathfinder honor?” I asked Jaimi.
“Pretty good.” Jaimi ran her fingers over the small oval of fabric with the embroidered seashell design. “You have to do a lot of work to earn these things.”
“Yeah, but it was fun, right?” I laid my Pathfinder sash flat on the table. I smoothed my hand across my own badges, which my mother had sewn onto the sash as I earned them over the years. There were only about 12. With our on again, off again Pathfinder Club, I hadn’t had a lot of opportunities to earn honors.
Andy and Rachel had their badge collections, too. We didn’t usually bring them to our meetings, but we wanted to show Jaimi what she could shoot for.
“You should see the sashes of some of the kids in the bigger Pathfinder clubs!” Andy exclaimed. “They’re literally covered in honors! Some kids even need two sashes to hold all their badges. We look pathetic next to them.”
Jaimi clutched her own badge a little more tightly. “Wow. And here I was thinking you guys had a lot of them.”
“Remember this one?” I pointed to the badge with a picture of a snake. “This was one of my first honors. Remember when we had that guest speaker come in to teach us about reptiles? He was, like, a professional snake handler or something.”
“I remember you climbing on top of the table like a sissy,” my brother Tony put in.
“Hey, I didn’t see your feet touching the ground much when he pulled out that rattlesnake!” I shot back. “And I’m pretty sure you were the only one who wouldn’t pet the baby alligator.”
“Reptiles carry salmonella,” Tony replied haughtily. “Not wanting to contract a disease is not the same as being scared.”
“Whatever you say, Mr. Clean.”
“Was that your first Pathfinder honor, the snake one?” Jaimi asked.
“No . . .” I said slowly. “I’m pretty sure my first one was the same as yours, actually. The shell honor.”
“I remember that,” said Rachel. “We were both really young and had just started Pathfinders. There were a lot more kids back then, and everyone was bigger than us. They called us the ‘little kids.’”
I nodded, remembering how quiet and shy and even a bit scared I had been when I first started Pathfinders. The other kids were nice, but they mostly ignored me because I was the youngest.
At the time, one of our group leaders was teaching us all about shells and mollusks, the animals that lived inside the shells. One night he asked us to come up with a lesson we could learn about God by studying mollusks and shells. He promised to give part of his shell collection to whoever could come up with a really good lesson.
I had been admiring everyone else’s shell collections for weeks, wishing I had one of my own. I also thought I had a pretty good idea for a lesson we could learn from shells. But I was the youngest kids in Pathfinders, and painfully shy on top of that. I opened my mouth to speak, but could hardly get two words out. Other kids were talking, so I decided not to even try.
And then an older girl—who, at the time, seemed very big to me—interrupted everyone by announcing, “I think Chrissy has something to share!”
I almost couldn’t do it, but with the older girl’s encouragement I managed to stutter out my idea. “I—I think one lesson is that if God . . . if God cared so much about the mollusks to give them shells to protect them, then . . . then think about how much more He must care about us.”
Now, every time I looked through the collection of shells I earned that night, I remembered the “older girl” who first helped me feel at home in my Pathfinder club.
The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, April 4!
Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!