Thinking back, as a fifth grader I would have described myself as feeling “yucky” inside. I tried to do my best. I tried to be happy, but there was a part of me that was scared, lonely and confused, like a little lamb. A pack of mean girls moved in on my life and set up their den around my heart.
I don’t know what happened initially, other than we had just moved from Virginia to Illinois the previous year and the mocking began when I answered “Yes ma’am and No ma’am,” (in a Southern way) to the teacher’s questions. It just grew from there like mold on bread. I was a relatively naive child. I wanted to be friends with people, but for some reason outside my understanding, was not going very well. It was a long year -- make that, two years.
They made fun of me. They poked at me with pencils and compass tips. It hurt, leaving small puncture wounds not only on my body, but on my heart. They took things from me and then lied. It seemed like at every opportunity, they circled around me and loomed over me, breathing down my neck, instilling fear in me around every corner. I felt vulnerable and violated. The pack was so domineering; I don’t remember having any other friends. Maybe everyone was scared of them, too.
The funny (or really not so funny) thing is that I don’t remember my teachers protecting me, either. Maybe I did not speak up; maybe I was afraid that I would get in trouble or be ridiculed even more. I did not feel safe at school. I hated feeling unprotected and alone.
I felt like something was wrong with me. Why else would they treat me so cruelly? I did not know what to do. I cried myself to sleep almost every night, under my pink and white gingham comforter, asking God to make tomorrow a better day. Finally, in seventh grade, things began to turn around; a new school helped in making new friends.
Still, once in a while I do still struggle with the memories and the effect that they had on me. I have to fight off a first response of thinking that there must be something wrong with me when I come up against others who are unkind. I can feel the “yucky” emptiness rise up inside of me, and I know that I have to stop, acknowledge it, and ask the Lord to help me embrace the truth.
The truth is this -- what others think of me and how they treat me does not determine my value. Their actions do not mean I am the problem. God determines my value, not other people. The truth is that He says I am a treasured possession, dearly loved, and bought with a price, His beloved. The truth is that I am not alone.
I was just a little girl. I hated that time. It takes no more than a hint of bullying or oppression, a mere brush with a mean girl, and I am right back to those difficult moments, feeling the pain, the sorrow, and the loneliness, but somehow I can see how God has redeemed the years that the locusts (those mean girls) have eaten (Joel 2:25).
Although I do not understand why God allowed it to happen, I can see that He is using it to give me a great compassion and love for others, especially for those who feel left out and “less than,” and in addition, I am learning to love myself and honor that little girl within, as well.
Do you have a story to share about the little girl within you and what God is showing you about yourself and Him? Please click here to read the introductory post to this series. Included at the bottom of the post are guidelines for submission. I would love to hear from you.