I just watched a video of a man who publicly confronted one of his school bullies thirty-five years later. The video was heart-wrenching. Thirty-five years after the fact, this man told his story and relived the terror that he lived through. No one came to his aid. He went home one day and got a gun and put it in his mouth. He did not pull the trigger and is alive today because he did not. He survived such abuse and one could see that it still greatly affects him.
School Bullies – The Long Term Affect
Over the last few years, I have thought a lot about my school bullies. Mine was not nearly as bad as this man. I did not attempt suicide over it. I remember hating to go to school. I could not wait to go to college and leave that school behind. I have no physical scars, but I now realize I have emotional scars from it.
Mine started when we moved back to my hometown when I was in the first grade. My brother and I were the only minorities in the entire K-12 school system. We are half oriental and half white and were, therefore, ridiculed because we looked different. They would ask us if we knew “kung fu” as they would try to imitate martial arts to hit or kick at us.
This then evolved into bullying/sexual harassment in junior high because I was quiet and painfully shy. Older boys would make crude comments and act like they were going to touch me. This led me to not being able to talk to boys as I was very afraid of them. The worst, I believe, was in high school when some boys taunted me and made fun of me in class and the teacher joined in. This was after having dealt with a different teacher that disliked all Orientals because he fought in the Vietnam War.
Do the school bullies even remember?
I really do not remember who my bullies were from grade school because most were older than me but I have seen many of my high school bullies as adults. Many of them probably do not even remember what they did to me or realize that it was even bullying. Some probably were just joining in with the others, not realizing that what they were saying or doing was hurtful. I am sure some of them do remember and did realize at the time.
When I see some of these former bullies, I have felt awkward and introverted around them. I have avoided some of them because when I see them I revert back to my quiet, shy high school self.
Face-to-Face with the Choice of Forgiving School Bullies
I did not realize the affect this had on me until a while back when one of my bullies died. Someone told me what had happened and I was very callous about it. As I thought about it, I felt terrible about my attitude about a life lost.
My initial reaction should have been, “Did he have a personal relationship with Christ?”, “How could this have happened?”, and “He was so young!” I felt bad about it and realized that I had never forgiven these people for what they had done.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other; just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)
I am sure that they have changed just as I have. We have all grown up and I know that some of them have come to have a personal relationship with Christ. Even as I am writing this, God is working on my heart to have true forgiveness toward these people. God tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and for us to forgive those who have wronged us (Ephesians 4:32).
Maybe I am a little strange but I love washing my sheets. Well, maybe that is an overstatement. I do not really like doing laundry, but I love clean sheets. I love the crisp feel of getting into a bed with freshly washed sheet. My goal is to wash my sheets twice a week but I usually only get it done once every week to ten days.
The Simple Joy of Clean Sheets
Almost every time I wash sheets, as we are getting into bed, I announce to my husband that it is clean sheets night. Even on our last vacation I admitted that while I hated staying in hotels, I love the clean sheets! Hotel sheets are crisper than even my home laundered sheets. I love that crisp feel.
That crisp, clean sheet feel only lasts a couple of days. After that there is nothing special about them. The clean, fresh feeling has worn off as we sleep on them and the grime and dead skin comes off our bodies and settles into our sheets. It is gradual and I do not think about it until it is clean sheets night again.
The Spiritual Connection
Our Spiritual lives are much like this. We go to Christian conferences, retreats, concerts, read an inspirational Christian book, or just go to a worship service on Sunday morning. We feel rejuvenated; we recommit ourselves; we feel better about ourselves; “we feel clean.”
As the days pass, that “new”, “clean” feeling wears off. We forget about what rejuvenated us, we fall into our old patterns. I know that I have been to conferences that have really affected me. I come up with all these ideas of how I am going to change and the things I am going to do. After a few days, I get sidetracked and forget about my plans. We let the world back in until we do something else that inspires us.
We do not always keep our focus. We should start our day in the Word. We should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Staying connected to our Father through out the day will keep us going in the right direction. We should not wait until we feel like dirty sheets to go to God. Stay connected with Him and every moment will be “clean sheets day”.
Is it just me or does anyone else like clean sheets night?
Some songs touch us more than others. For me, one of those songs is “I Can Only Imagine.” I cannot listen to it without tearing up.
Although I do not remember when I first heard it, I do remember when it first touched me. The church I attended was doing a walk-through drama. I guided people through each scene. The last scene depicted “heaven” and“I Can Only Imagine” was playing in the background as “Jesus” spoke to each of us. This was so powerful and tears streamed down my face.
We all try to imagine what heaven will be like. The Bible is filled with references of it…streets of gold, walls adorned with precious stones, gates of pearls. Even with the description, I do not think we can fully comprehend what it will be like. I believe it is beyond our mere mortal comprehension. All we can do is imagine what it will be like.
Recently, I took my children to see the movie I Can Only Imagine. While I knew the basics of the story behind the song–the writer and lead singer of Mercy Me, Bart Milliard, wrote it due to an event in his life–I wanted to know more. So that I do not spoil the movie for anyone, I will not go into detail about the event. When we went to see the movie, I really did not know what was in store for me. It is labeled as a movie about redemption, but it was not what I expected–it is about so much more.
This powerful movie is based on Bart Milliard’s life starting at a very early age all the way up to when the song was released. He went through so much throughout his childhood and so much of the movie is just heartbreaking. The movie is very touching, and luckily, I took tissues with me (a friend warned me, and like I said, just the song itself makes me cry). As a side note: The movie was very well-made, felt like a high-budget film, and had incredible acting. It is a must-see for everyone.
We each have our own story. That story, good or bad, is what makes us who we are. It is what forms us, how we react to traumas and celebrations. We can push people away and hide within ourselves. Or, we can turn to God to get us through these things.
We all try to imagine what heaven is like. We will never realize its true magnificence until we get there.
I recently was looking back through an “On This Day” post from Facebook and found a post I had completely forgotten about. After reading it, I wondered if I had done what I was asking about. Here is what I had posted:
“I witnessed something this morning that shocked me and brought a tear to my eye. I took my son to an auction and when the auctioneer stood up to talk, he asked that we all bow our heads for a word of prayer. He said a beautiful prayer. My son and I looked at each other afterwards in shock. My son commented that it was good to see someone do that. That got me to thinking. Do we stand before strangers and share our faith? I know I don’t nearly enough. Something to ponder…”
At least a hundred people were at this farm/estate auction out in the middle of nowhere. And yet, this auctioneer had no problem standing up, saying a prayer over us, and glorifying God while doing his job. His bold witness made an impression on both my son and me.
After re-reading this post, it made me wonder if that event had made a big enough impression on me to make me bolder in my witness. For the last few days, I have wondered if it had changed me or if I went back to being meek. I am still struggling with this debate as I type this.
I had actually forgotten about this occasion until I read about it two years later. At first, I thought that I had not become bolder in my faith. But after consideration, I think I have changed. I may not have initially remembered this, but I have grown bolder over the last couple of years. Now, I will pray with people I barely know if they need prayer. The fear of rejection made me hesitant to ask someone if I could pray with/for them. No one has said, “No.” I have even made friends this way.
Since that day, I have also tried to be a more positive person and encourage people who appear to be having a bad day. I have even stopped being rude to telemarketers! After all, they are only doing their job. (I am still not so nice to phone scammers. That one is going to take some time.) Some of these may seem like small things, but we never know what can come of it.
I am a “people pleaser.” If someone asks me to do something, I usually say yes. It does not matter how busy I am or what I have going on. It is almost impossible for me to say no. I want to help everyone.
As a result, I am overwhelmed and stressed at times. Sometimes, I feel that way even when someone simply asks me to do something. I fill my schedule and then cannot give my fullest to the things that I have (over)committed to. Of course, I then start neglecting other things because I have too much to do.
Several years ago, a lady from church called to ask if I could make a dessert for a funeral dinner. Despite feeling overwhelmed, I really wanted to do it. I started asking a lot of questions trying to figure out how to fit this into my schedule and life with small children. This wonderful lady stopped me and then told me it was okay if I could not do it;she understood. I tried to tell her I could do it. She told me I could do it the next time and not to worry about it. I felt such a huge sense of relief come over me when she said that. I realized that my need to say yes was a problem. At that moment, I knew I no longer had to say yes to everything.
It was time to focus on the important things: my husband and children, and most importantly, God. It was then that I once again began starting my day with God. I started praying about things I was asked to do instead of always saying yes. My focus shifted to the things that matter. Although I struggled and it took a while, I did learn to say, “No.”
Are you a people pleaser?
Can you say no when someone asks you to do something?