7th grader Devin Jones speaks deliberately, allowing each syllable the right amount of attention, whether in volume or stress. He corrects himself while speaking if he has a better thought and often ends his sentences with a charismatic nearwhisper. Even his incomplete thoughts and mundane comments have our mouths agape as if we are listening to the transmissions of an ancient sage.
You can find good in the dark.
“Seventh grade isn’t bad,” Devin shrugs, bringing us back to reality. One reason seventh grade isn’t bad is that Devin is enjoying history, science, language arts, and football. He’s played more football than he has in the past and admits the pain in his spine and shoulder blades returns if he pushes it (which he has, he admits).
The physical pain is a daily reminder of the accident that injured Devin, his brothers and took his father from them all. He’s thankful for his mom and brothers, who saw him through a gauntlet of confusing and overwhelming emotions. He didn’t want to linger on the event itself, but Devin told us that this “sad time” for his family helped them discover that “you can find good in the dark.”
That “good” is often about finding a role model who can teach you what you need to know and help to keep your principles in order. For Devin, that’s his father. “I strive so hard to be like him,” he says, “Because he was one of the best people anybody could have ever met in their life.” What makes his dad’s character remarkable is charity and the willingness to help total strangers and anyone in need. His dad’s involvement in the church has inspired Devin to follow in his footsteps and continue in his dad’s spiritual tradition.
Devin also understands the importance of building and maintaining reputation. Word around the campfire is that he’s a good friend, and he’s always available to help if others are in need. He does this despite being perpetually irritated by people in general.
“I don’t like people much,” he says, “I’m not a people person.” He says he inherited this trait from both his mom and dad. Devin tends to feel self-conscious whenever there’s a large group of people around, so he’d understandably rather avoid that feeling altogether. He’d also prefer to avoid everyone’s “drama,” so if you ever see Devin alone, doing his own thing, don’t worry; he’s living his peace.
The love for quiet is a symptom of belonging to his brand of family. “We’d all stick to ourselves in an enclosed area,” if they visited a water park, he says, “No screaming, hollering… we’re like the quiet family.” While they may be quiet at times, the family that Devin describes sounds like an extension of himself. They’re not so much quiet as deliberate: considering every action carefully, paying attention to detail, making every word count. Devin’s actions are sage-like because they have a purpose, and he has decided to place meaning behind his actions. His thoughtful, deliberate speech and actions suggest an influential persona on the rise, and we know we’ll be hearing more from him soon.