Recently, I've come across a film on YouTube entitled "I'm Not Ashamed". Released in 2016, this film details the life of 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott, a student at Columbine High School in the late 90's. The compassion and vulnerability her character displays brings light to her selfless attitude and care towards the wellbeing of others.
Rachel's life came to a tragic end during the events that occurred at Columbine on April 20, 1999. However, her story has not gone unnoticed. Entries from her journal have been published in various novels, telling her story and aspirations for the world. A nonprofit organization has been established in her name, advocating against violence in schools.
While watching "I'm Not Ashamed", and learning more about Rachel's legacy, I've become especially intrigued by her devotion towards God and Christianity. The film portrayed her as a teenage girl unafraid to speak of her faith, even if it meant losing her closest friends.
Many of her journal entries consist of prayers, pouring her heart out with thoughts of uncertainty, asking for guidance from The Lord, as well as praising Him for His blessings bestowed upon herself and others.
As someone who grew up in a Christian household like Rachel, a verse that has been repeated throughout sermons is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Rachel adhered to this verse each day, spreading joy and sympathy towards her friends, family, and classmates. Her desire for forgiveness and will to stand up and help anyone in need is depicted throughout the film.
She longed to inspire others, having a theory that "if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same".
Positivity is contagious, and Rachel's story has stuck with me from the moment I finished watching "I'm Not Ashamed". I see myself as a quiet individual, one who may appear uninterested in the life around her, having little interaction with people around campus.
Lately, I've begun to smile more, say hi to familiar faces as I walk to class and, most importantly, find a deeper connection with God.
While Rachel's story goes much beyond wishing the dining hall workers a great day, and really immersing herself in the sermon's spoken at church, I can feel a major shift in my personality for the better.
Radiating positivity to those around me, and seeing the thankfulness in their eyes, really pays off. Finding that deeper connection with God that I haven't been able to fully grasp is life changing. I'm feeling more open to discussing my faith with others and sharing my wisdom during church small groups. I've felt more connected, more involved with my community.
The feeling is indescribable.
Like Rachel, I love to write my thoughts in a journal. Her poems, prayers, and daily thoughts have inspired me to write more. Perhaps writing my prayers from time to time, as opposed to speaking them aloud, will allow me to dig deeper into my heart, and really express to God what it is I'm grateful for, and where I need His strength.
Finding Rachel's story has been a gift and I pray that, like her, I can start a chain reaction on my own campus, and in my hometown.
Rachel Joy, you HAVE touched millions of people's hearts, including my own. Thank you.