When I was in sixth grade, I was bullied all year by two girls in my class. I know that in this day and age of Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, bullying has gone to new levels of cruelty that I doubt I could have survived. I barely survived the one year of torment I endured from these girls who found a weak and unprepared victim.
They mocked me in front of the class, they left mean notes on my desk, they turned the entire class against me, and they brought out the weakest and worst in me. I lost respect for myself that year. I began to believe the things they said about me. I reacted with insecurity which is blood in the water to sharks who go after their prey on the recess yard.
No one would be my friend because to be seen with me put you in my “class” of loser. I had one friend by the end of the year and even she was different than she had been the year before when we frolicked in our innocence.
Every night I cried. My mother wanted to go to the principle but I begged her not to. Things would be so much worse for me if she did. She tried to explain that these girls were jealous of me and they wanted to make me miserable because they themselves were miserable. I, of course, didn’t believe her. Why would I? These two girls ruled the class with their iron fists of haughty glances, sneering smiles, flirtatious phrases and cool outfits. They could cut you down to size with one sideways look of disgust. I was out of my league. As an only child, I hadn’t learned how to stand up for myself, have a good argument, shake off someone’s behavior that is annoying or rude or get in someone’s face and tell them where to take their crappy attitude. Brothers and sisters teach each other how to handle conflict and I was totally unskilled.
I went down like the Titanic.
Sixth grade was also the year I got braces. Wonderful. And acne. Perfect.
So I made a change in who I hung out with. I decided that boys were a lot easier to be around than catty girls who would be nice to your face one minute and then pass a note about your ugly sweater the next. (I know I’m dating myself terribly talking about passing notes. I must sound like a total dinosaur!)
In my mind, boys were safe and girls were unsafe. Boys were direct and girls were sly. Boys were simpler and girls were far too complex – even though I was one of them, I didn’t feel like I was that complex!
This was the beginning of my challenges with female friendships. If you’re a woman reading this, I ask you: Have you also experienced what I’m talking about? Can you relate to my distrust of female friendships?
Then I became a Christian and started attending church on a regular basis. I was only 18 at the time so I was still pretty young. It didn’t take me long to notice that the ladies at church, young or old, were nothing like the girls / ladies I had been burned by throughout my grammar school and highschool years. But could they really be trusted??
Over the thirty plus years that I have been going to a Christian church, I have found that almost all of my issues with catty girls, gossip, lying, backbiting and meanness are gone. I have formed the most valuable and nourishing friendships that have lasted decades and still continue to grow in depth and kindness. I have seen my friends drop everything to help me in my hard times, and have been encouraged and buoyed up by their faith in me and their love for me.
The Bible says that those who love are born of God and know God because God is love. And I have certainly seen that displayed in my girlfriends. The more we grow in our faith, the more compassionate and outgoing we have become. The more we get healed by the love of God for us, the more we reach out in confidence and strength to others, not needing to recognized or applauded, just delighting to show kindness and support.
My mother was right: Those girls in sixth grade were mean to me because they were unhappy. And that’s why my friends now are worthy of my trust. They are happy and secure in the love of God for them so they don’t need to tear me down to feel better about themselves. I am blessed. Truly and completely blessed.
May you find good friends to do life with.
And if you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior, I would start there. We can’t give what we don’t have. We can’t give love and acceptance when we’re an open wound of neediness ourselves. Let Jesus heal your heart from all of the pain of your past so you can be the friend you so earnestly desire to have.
- Have you struggled with bullying at some point in your life? Did that period in your life leave scars of self-doubt?
- Do you crave real friendship but struggle to find friends you can trust?
- Are you a trustworthy friend? Do you work at your friendships?
- Do you gossip or pass along tidbits about other people because you find it gratifying to talk about the flaws of others?
If you are a gossip, I’m telling you right now, people don’t trust you. They might not tell you to your face, but if you run your mouth, people don’t see you as a safe person. And if you’re not a safe person, then no one is able to be authentic around you. And if no one is authentic around you, you don’t have any real friends. Stop gossip in your life right now. It’s a friendship killer and the person who will lose in the end is you. No juicy tidbit is worth the damage you are doing to people’s ability to trust you and like you. Be content in your own skin and always be one who lifts others up, praises them and shuts down conversation that brings people down. Let God’s love heal your self-esteem so that you are free to love yourself and others.
Dear Lord Jesus, I come to you and ask for healing for the pain of my past. I have felt pain and I have caused pain. I ask for your forgiveness and healing to wash me clean and restore joy and peace to my soul. Show me how to be a faithful friend who loves at all times and speaks a good word in due season. Let my words be encouraging and beneficial to all who hear. May I never slander of gossip and if I do, help me to be quick to repent and ask forgiveness. Please, O God, be my Rock, my Defender and the Lover of my soul, so that I can love others with your love. Amen.