Something I wrote was published over on Good Woman Project, which is pretty cool. It's a letter to my 13 year old self.
This letter has seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people.
I submitted it in November but actually wrote it back in July. I can't remember the reason exactly, but I was sitting at my parent's house in my old room and I decided to read through an old journal. I read one and then I slowly poured through my old journals one by one.
My heart broke. It broke.
The girl I was when I wrote those words is so very different than who I am now.
The issues I struggled with then are the issues I struggle with now, but now I lean on Jesus. I no longer have to look to people for acceptance.
I look to the cross and find my hope.
Most of the bullying that I experienced as a child was actually younger than 13. From about grade 3-7 I was tormented by some girls. I've forgiven them now. It took me a long time but I can recognize now that they were hurting too, just in different ways. The bullying became far less obvious in high school, but up until I was out of high school, I never felt accepted for who I was, I never felt heard in what I spoke, and I rarely felt as though anyone truly cared.
Sometimes I look back on myself and feel like maybe I was just being dramatic. Maybe things weren't so bad. And maybe they weren't. But regardless, the emotions I felt as a young teen were real and huge and they hurt.
I think it was about a year ago, or maybe even longer ago that I was talking to my Mom about those days. I had never really realized that she was aware of it. I never knew that the teachers were calling home and trying to find solutions. I honestly thought I was alone back then. My friends were my teachers. My Mom said something along the lines of the teachers didn't understand why none of your classmates liked you since you were the kindest and sweetest girl they had taught. There is obviously a mother's emphasis in that but even at a young age I had a soul that loved people. I loved encouraging and being kind. I still do. And for some reason the other kids didn't like me back.
I want to be wise with this story. I also don't want to hide it anymore. I haven't written much about it before and even writing that letter in the first place was a big step towards forgiveness.
I've learnt, both in that letter, and over the past couple years as I've started opening up about my sin to people instead of pretending to be just fine and dandy, that a told story is far better than an untold one.
That's obvious though, I think.
Like I said up top (cue high five), this letter has seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people. I've received messages and had people tell me that my words made them cry. People have called me brave. People have said that they completely understand what I went through because they went through the same thing.
Again, I want to be wise in what I write on this subject. I don't understand why it is that so many people can relate to that story. Why oh why are girls oh so very mean? Seriously! Why? What are we doing as a western culture that ingrains something in girls that causes them to choose targeted people and treat them with cruelty?
I know that the main answer is that we live in a fallen world. I get that.
Yet there has got to be something that we can start doing.
One thing I would suggest, to anybody walking alongside someone going through bullying, is to love them so very much. And again, I know that is obvious. But seriously. One might never know the impact, but kindness matters. Like I wrote in the letter, I've blurred enough of the memories to forget which girls exactly said and wrote what. I haven't however forgotten which ones were kind and gracious throughout everything.
If I could go back, and I mean this with sincerity, I wouldn't change my story. I wouldn't change what happened. The brokenness that I experienced led me to the wholeness that I know now.
I know it in Jesus.
I don't speak of Jesus as a platitude. I speak of Jesus with sincerity, genuineness, and with a deep deep awe of who He is.
Jesus understands exclusion.
Jesus understands unkind words.
Jesus understands being let down by people you trust.
Jesus understands pain.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Here's a small piece of the letter:
I met you again recently.
I was visiting at my parents and happened to grab an old journal off of my bookshelf in my old room. I figured I would just look at one entry but soon found myself scanning the entire thing and then moving onto more journals.
Oh 13, you were so sad. You were so lonely. You were so broken. You were trying to figure out how to please God, but you kept thinking that if you worked hard enough He would show up.
If you missed the link at the top, here is the link.
I want to give a solution to the problem.
But I can't.
The solutions is found at the foot of the cross.
When we look up at Jesus, dying on the cross, a sinless man who literally carried all of the sin on the world, then we can suddenly find the acceptance that we will never ever ever ever ever find anywhere else.