I can't stand bullies, name-calling, dragging people down and hurting people with words; a bully's impact can linger even 35 years later.
Today's bullies are bigger cowards than the ones I faced in junior high. At least my bully bullied me face-to-face.
We didn't have the internet, social media and cellphones with digital cameras.
The closest thing to a digital camera we had was a Polaroid that shot out a developing photo you had to wave around to dry.
I knew who my bully and her cronies were, and I could avoid them. I didn't have to worry about the ways in which kids are bullied today; cowards - the lot of them.
But, once again, I digress...
You may be asking, "What prompted this subject? You've never talked about bullying before."
What prompted this post was memories. I recently discovered that one of the people that tormented me in 6th grade died from cancer.
I feel badly for her husband, children, friends and other family members for the hole in their lives her dying has left. She was too young.
And, although I've walked in forgiveness for decades, I realized upon hearing the news that I felt no sense of loss for her.
I feel sadness for her family and friends who obviously loved her, but I felt no sadness in my spirit for her personally.
That's what bullying does, even 35 years later.
This girl and her little clutch of friends called me names, ruined my clothes, intentionally embarrassed me in front of people and dumped my books out of my hands in the hallway.
I never knew why she did these things; we hadn't known each other before that year (our feeder elementary schools were different), and we rarely had classes together.
She made my 6th grade year miserable, but then our class tracks took us in different directions, so 7th and 8th grade were marginally better.
We lived in totally different neighborhoods, so we fed into different high schools.
The fact is, I hadn't seen her at all since 1981, until I found out she had died.
At first, when I saw her picture on Facebook, my gut reaction was a sense of revulsion, and I couldn't figure out why. Then it all started to "click" and the memories fell into place.
It was HER. Wow. That was a whopper to process.
I started thinking about the things she said and did. Although I don't believe bullying is the way to handle anything, her bullying made me aware of some things I was clueless about.
I paid more attention to my personal grooming (it really was needed) amongst other things, and by 8th grade, had made up my mind that I was going to use high school as a new beginning.
I was leaving these people behind and moving on with my life.
I was going to do all the things I had wanted to do in junior high and didn't. I was going to get involved in all the activities I was interested in.
I graduated from 8th grade with the Citizenship Award, reading my graduation speech in front of my peers, and with other honors for my band and choir participation.
I took that momentum into high school and flourished. Although I was never considered part of the "popular" kids, I had lots of friends. I excelled. I thrived in my new environment.
That bully did some harm to my psyche, but God has always made me stronger than any bully. He's always given me the ability to face adversity and grow in strength and courage from it.
Little did I know that I'd need that strength and courage in spades just 4 years later when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The most amazing aspect of this story is the example of how great God is. He took a bad situation (the bullying), and made it work for the good in me (strength and courage).
Now, I can see the truth in a bully's impact 35 years later.
My greatest hope from all of this is that she knew Jesus before taking her last breath. I'd like to see her in heaven some day.
Mark 11:25 (NIV)
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Were you bullied as a kid? Do you know someone that is being bullied?
Fellow ChicagoNow blogger, author and mom extraordinaire, Carrie Goldman has multiple resources on her "About" page to help you. Click here → About Carrie Goldman
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