and has a sense of humor to die for.
She's smart and has a successful career.
She's a sharp dresser and knows how to put together "a look".
She has a family that loves her
and thinks she is the best.
But her perception of herself is different.
She struggles with, what I now know, years of verbal abuse. Bullying.
I've known her for years.
Well...maybe I shouldn't use the word KNOWN
because when I really listened to her recently
I came to the realization that a huge part of her life
I hadn't known.
A part that shaped and molded her into who she is.
I don't know what caused her to tell her story that day.
We weren't alone so she wasn't talking directly to me.
She wasn't trying to get my approval or sympathy.
She was just telling her story.
Unexpectedly even to herself, I think.
There were a few questions here and there
but, honestly, we mostly just listened
to a woman explain
why she is who she is today.
I don't know how many years this bullying consumed
(or maybe she would say at times it still feels as though it goes on)
but in those precious years of a child's life when it matters the most
what people think
she was, in her mind, told all to clearly what they thought.
And it wasn't nice. It wasn't loving. It wasn't right.
Maybe, we think, she shouldn't have let it bother her - what they thought.
But it did. It does.
Called names, ridiculed, (and maybe the worst) ignored.
At school and at church.
In the church youth group where you would expect to be loved unconditionally - or at least accepted.
At first she hoped for some reprieve when relatives
were part of the group.
She quickly quit hoping.
Their silence was as bad as the words that were spoken.
Even as she told her story I could feel the pain.
She teared up now and then
but it was as though, finally,
she could speak of it - even to herself.
She excused the kids now
by saying "they were just kids"
but in her telling of it
I came to the realization
that she can be in that moment once again simply
by a word spoken to her now that she interprets to mean something it wasn't meant to mean.
It all becomes so personal.
The gut retching pain of it all.
She mentioned how she is examining how this small portion of her life
has impacted the majority of her life.
Decisions. Actions. Choices. Self-worth.
Things she does and feels even today, so many years later.
I've since cried for her -
for that young person that so badly wanted acceptance
only to be openly put down - beaten down - with words and actions.
To be judged by the outward appearance
and motives that others knew nothing about.
I weep for that person even as I write this.
And I weep for me. For repentance.
For the times I have listened to others being put down by someone.
For the times I have been silent and in that way contributed.
For the things I have thought in judgement of others.
And for the things I have said to someone and for the things I have said behind their backs.
Oh, forgive me Lord
for the things I have said of people
"behind their backs."
I hope her sharing with us helped to heal.
I hope self acceptance becomes a victory in her life.
I hope she can forgive.
I have been asking the Lord to make me more like Him.
I believe He is bringing me to the realization that first I must see for myself who I am.
I know He will forgive.