I was 12 years old. I was sitting in my English Literature class as Sylvia glared at me from her desk. Her eyes were like daggers as she hissed out the words “You’re gonna get it at lunch!!” Gulp!! I quickly shifted my eyes back down to my test paper. Everyone knows what that means! She wasn’t promising me a cupcake or a friendship bracelet. She was promising to pound my face in at lunch. I had somehow managed to make an enemy of Sylvia. To my recollection, she was about a foot taller than me, and she was tough! I, on the other hand had been taught not to fight, but rather to turn the other cheek, I was the exact opposite of tough. In the 7th grade no-one wants to be known as a snitch, so naturally rather than running to the teacher to tattle tale, when lunch time came I literally hid in the cafeteria for the entire break. I tried to ignore the inescapable doom. Then the bell rang…dun, dun, dun. You see, Sylvia and I had the same class after lunch, so I knew I would have to see her, but I figured I had waited it out long enough, I could sneak back into class unnoticed…WRONG!
I swung the cafeteria door open to see Sylvia and a sidekick waiting for me. Just like a scene in a movie, there they were leaning up against the flagpole when I emerged from my safe haven. Hoping that by some miracle, God would make me invisible, I started walking back to class with Sylvia and her minion right on my tail. Suddenly from behind I felt my long wavy hair get yanked, and my head flew back. I fought hard to keep the lump in my throat from welling up into tears as I continued to walk. She stopped me by shoving me up against a chain link fence. I’m not sure how, but I kept going on my walk back to class. Now unable to hold back the fear in my heart, and the utter embarrassment my eyes flooded with tears. As they streamed down my face I was followed closely by Sylvia screaming obscenities at me. By now we had a crowd of people following us like crazed fans at a boxing match waiting to see who would lose…as if that was a mystery.
I finally reached our classroom. The whole class was there, waiting for the teacher who was very inconveniently late. I kept my head down as I walked all the way up the portable trailer’s ramp, past all my classmate’s staring eyes, until I reached the top. I was cornered, like a lab rat, with nowhere else to go and no one to help. Sylvia caught up with me. Her face was so close to mine I could feel her breath. She pointed her finger in my face and with an angry scowl she sneered “I’ll get you after school! I’ll come on your BUS if I have to!” Trying unsuccessfully to sound brave, my voice squeaked out an “ok”, as I wiped the tears from my face. I was so afraid, so alone.
Once the teacher arrived, I asked to be excused from class, gathered up all my things and headed to the principal’s office. As I was explaining what happened while wiping my tears with a scratchy brown paper towel, my Dad was called, and he came to pick me up. What a relief! I was rescued.
Isn’t it amazing the details we can remember about things that happened to us so many years ago? Being made to feel weak and insignificant is a feeling that doesn’t disappear easily. Short lived moments of defeat taint your grown up life with insecurity and fear that run deep. Once you have realized that there actually are people in the world who are just mean spirited, it kills a little bit of your innocence. You have entered the realm of self-protection. Unfortunately, once you have been faced with one or two of these fist wielding, name calling meanies, it’s hard to see anyone else as trustworthy. And so, you begin mixing mortar and gathering bricks to build a huge, daunting wall around your heart. Why trust anyone, why love anyone, when these walls keep me safe from being hurt? If I keep them out, then I’ll be safe and protected.
CS Lewis said:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
It sure is lonely inside a room all by yourself. When you take shelter behind a self-made fortress it creates a stifling silence, and the only voice you hear is your own bouncing off the walls saying “no-one loves me, nobody cares”. There are people in every walk of life right now sitting inside these lonely little cubbies. Single people and married people alike can be so painfully alone, because they have chosen isolation over vulnerability. The problem is, it’s not only your voice that you hear, the loudest voice we hear sometimes is the voice of our enemy, the Devil. He enjoys lying to us, telling us that if we step foot outside of our fortress, we will be pulverized by people’s words and actions. He likes to let us believe that everyone is out to get us, and that if we open up to anyone, we will be destroyed! He is called the Great Deceiver. His goal is to render you useless. When we believe the lie that we are not good enough, we will cower at any opportunity for growth or success because we will be too afraid to fail.
I have two daughters, who are in 4th and 5th grade. They have already had their fair share of kids being mean, and saying silly things that can hit a little heart hard. My encouragement to them has always been “You know the truth about you.” One day in particular, Mia came home and said “Mom, a girl today said “you really stink at soccer” With tears in her eyes and defeat in her voice, she crossed her arms, and dropped her head. My reply was “Well, do you stink at soccer?”
She quickly replied “No, I’m good at soccer!” Smiling I said “Well there you go! You know the truth about you, and you don’t have to believe what some kid said about you. If it’s not true, then you don’t need to own it”.
Who, or what are the bullies in your life? What does the enemy like to throw at you? What are the words that you constantly hear from this breather of lies? Here is the truth about you. Ephesians 2:10 says you are His masterpiece! Masterpiece can be defined as “an artist’s favorite piece of art”! That’s YOU!! You are amazing because God has created You! Furthermore, He has created you for greatness!
We have all fallen victim to the bully in one way or another. Believe it or not, that bully still comes after me from time to time. That enemy jumps up to attack with words that create insecurity, fear and complete despair at times. But, I AM NOT POWERLESS! By God’s sacrifice on the cross, I am not chained to the bullies or mistakes of the past. I am allowed now, because of Jesus, to stand up and remind that enemy that my heart is secure and safe, and that he is on God’s turf now.
When the bullies get you down, wipe your tears, and keep on walking. If they grab you and try to pull you back, you get back up and you walk, even RUN to the one who’s arms are safe! When you allow God to be your safety, and allow Jesus to begin taking down your wall brick by brick, you will begin hearing God’s whispers to you. His whispers are filled with promise, and with peace. He alone is able to protect you from anyone or anything that might tell you “You’re gonna get it!”