I was raised in a household that taught me I could be anything I wanted to be. I was raised in a household that told me that it was who I am inside that counts. I was raised in a household that told me it was my strength of character and my strength of courage that counted far more than what was in the bank. I was raised in a household that said I was special and unique and loved.
Then, at the age of six, I started school.
I was raised in a social environment that told me that I was being judged by what was on the outside--and that as the fat girl in the classroom, I was worthless. I was raised in a social environment that looked at the income my family made and told me I would never amount to much. I grew up in a school environment that said, special and unique mean different and unacceptable--and yes, you surely are. I grew up with people who not only saw I was different and special and unique but used those things, on more than one occasion to isolate and hurt me.
I learned at an early age that while my mother believed that it's what is on the inside that counts and that I should never judge someone by what I can see with my eyes. I learned a few years later, that while I was not to judge others--I would be judged quickly and often--by what I looked like, what I wore, and how I appeared to those around me. And that I would fall short of "acceptable" or "popular" on a weekly, if not daily basis.
29 years of life with my mother taught me that strength and dignity could far outweigh what anyone else believed of me and that if I put my mind, heart, and soul into something I could overcome the steepest odds stacked against me. Twelve years of parochial school taught me that while I might believe what my mom taught me--I had best not share it with anyone else. It taught me not to trust anyone who hadn't proved themselves beyond an shadow of a doubt and it taught me that I had best not let anyone who wasn't my friend know that they had gotten to the core of me and could hurt me.
33 years of life I battled those two conflicting viewpoints--believing most of the time those things that are worst about myself and the best about the majority of the population. Who am I kidding? I still struggle..still don't feel like I'm acceptable and worthy. But. 3 years ago (give or take a month or two) I was introduced to Jesus Christ. Don't get me wrong, I already knew Him...but I didn't know Him like I know Him now. I knew that He loved me and had died for my sins...but I didn't know that He could really be a friend to me. I didn't know that He loved me for who I was. A few years ago I learned that I am a child of God. That God made me and loves me and that I AM acceptable and special and unique--and that those are good things. Sometimes I still struggle with it...sometimes I don't believe good things about myself. But I'm learning, that at the core I am a wonderfully made child of God, that I matter to Him and that I belong. And that nothing anyone here on earth can say changes that.
Please don't get me wrong. I had good times, good friends, and good memories of my 12 years of parochial school. I learned much--and I'm sure that for as many hurtful things that were said to me...I hurt a few people as well. For anyone who is reading this that I hurt, know that I am sorry.
What brought this on, you ask? Facebook. I have friends on there; some of them that I never would have thought were my friends back then...let alone now. And sometimes I struggle with that...because while I generally accept people for who they are...sometimes I judge by what I remember and from the pain I carry. For some...I have unfairly judged by who they seemed to be so many years ago than by finding out who they are now. And...perhaps in doing so I have shut out or cut off the possibility of friendship with someone who God intended to put me beside...to support, to love, and to befriend.
The question is...am I strong enough to follow through with what I think He desires me to do...or will I balk and protect my own heart and shut out the world...the world I say I want to reach through my writing and through my life...for Him?
I can only hope. And to that person who told me today that I am special...thank you. I struggled with knowing what to say or how to handle it...because you are just one of those people I never thought would see anything about me from the inside. Corny or not...It made me feel good. And maybe, I need to learn not to be so hard on people...from the review mirror.
Blessings and Peace