I was in eighth grade, and finally got along with just about everyone. There were still annoying kids and some characters with whom even I didn't want to spend my time. I was not quite on top, but I wasn't on the bottom either. I was comfortably in the middle. Middle ground was fine for me. I had been the focus of bullying, and in a way had bullied others by bullying the bullies. I wasn't any better than anyone else in that sense, but I didn't make it a point to pick on others. I knew the pain. I felt the same sadness. I had my own burdens outside of school that no one knew about. In the same sense, I did not know what their home lives were like.
As the school year progressed, and our school only went up to eighth grade, I was making my way to the top. I hung out with the cool crowd during breaks, lunch, and recess. We were playing cards at the lunch tables. I had my own set of Sharpies, chips in my lunch, and didn't get picked last for teams.
Well, as you know, nothing great lasts forever, and I was about to be faced with one of the most defining moments of my character. I was about to be put to the test. These so-called cool kids were going to make me choose. You see, the more time I spent with one group of kids, the more they picked on another, and in that other group were also some of my friends. They were kids that I had known since kindergarten. They were kids I rode home with from school. They were kids I played with on the weekends. There was one particular girl that I was really starting to connect with, and had such fun with at school. She had landed herself as the butt of everyone's jokes, just by being born the way she was. She didn't do anything wrong. She wasn't mean to anybody. But because the cool-kids just didn't like her, they harassed her all day, even making her cry. As a result of kids' insecurities and tendency to bully, they were declaring that if I wanted to continue hanging out with them, "the cool kids", then I had to dump my other friend.
I played both sides for a little while, telling each side what they wanted to hear, until I was given an ultimatum by the cool kids. They were really quite cruel. They gave me a deadline.
So at first recess one day, I was to meet with my friend at the far end of the parking lot/playground and dump her as my friend, and never hang out with her again. I agreed. Even though it was tearing me up inside, I thought I'd brave it and end this one relationship to gain the likes of all the other kids in class.
First recess was over and so was my friendship. But imagine all the other friends I was gaining. Lose one, gain many. Sounds ok. But inside, the guilt and sadness was tearing me up. It was eating my heart out, because when I told her that I didn't want to hang out with her anymore and started to walk away, she covered her face and began to cry. She was sad. I knew she was sad. I was sad, and I knew it was wrong.
All of my new cool friends surrounded me, laughing and joking, and probably praising me for that cool thing I just did. Cool? You mean cruel. Only Satan delights in such a mean act. Act of kindness? Lack of kindness. She was crying. Jesus was crying. Who was winning?
Now, I'm not sure if it took me the whole day to reflect upon my actions. I don't know if it was the same day, or the next day, but after thinking about what I had done, I stood up against all the cliques and cruel kids, gained the strength and courage I needed, and apologized to my dear friend. I asked for her forgiveness, told her I was so sorry, and pretty much begged for her to be my friend again. Why should she? She was skeptical, as I would have expected; as I would have been. She was a little unsure, but she did forgive me, that very moment. She did accept my apology, and we did spend the rest of the year having the best times together.
For my 14th birthday, I had a party at the beach. My parents drove our motor home down to silver strand. We parked it, and had a bbq and lots of beachy fun. I invited a handful of people, one being that girl, and didn't care about any of those other false fakes at school. Let them say what they want to, because she and I were making our own memories, and our own inside jokes.
That moment of my life was a defining moment of my character. It is a benchmark, a pillar, a blessing. It has allowed me to stand up for what is right, to ask for forgiveness when I know I am wrong, and not be afraid of what others will say. I have been unpopular, popular, unpopular, popular, unpopular, popular, many times over. I have said "I'm sorry" a gazillion times, and will have to repeat those words a gazillion and a half more times in my life.
I have been bullied, and I have bullied. At this point in life, I try my best not to do any bullying. I recognize bullying, and it breaks my heart, because I know it breaks theirs. Sometimes it shows, and sometimes the effects are hidden. But with each word, glare, snicker, stare, secret.. with each one their hearts are pricked, slashed, gashed open and mended with broken needles. The holes never heal, they just get filled in, but like on a sinking ship, there's only so much time you have until the gum pops out and the ship goes under.
I went to a Private School... and the bullying continues, but it doesn't stop with the students.
Most unhealthy relationships are blind to logic and reason, answers and solutions. They don't see any wrong from within. Only outsiders can see the harm being done, but those involved don't think, see, or feel that anything is wrong. When this happens, all we can do is pray. Pray and know that God will do what has to be done, what is to be done, what is right.
Bullies control with fear. The bullied allow others to control them with fear. Have the strength to say "enough". Have the faith to know that better is out there, and have the courage to close one door, and know that another will open. You can't always wait to find something better before walking away. Close it and have faith. Don't be controlled by fear.
If God sent His only son to die for us, why don't you believe that He'll provide you with a new job? Since God sent His only son Jesus to die for us, believe that He will provide you with all you need, including a new job, and whatever else He has for you.
If you've been looking and looking, endlessly looking for a job, and haven't found one, yet you're at home taking care of your family, spending time with loved ones, raising your children.. then your answer has already been given, you're just not listening. You are right where you are supposed to be, right now! Open your eyes, smile, and say 'thank you'.
I am not perfect. I am a sinner. But I am happy and at peace with my life.
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Faith & Fruition,