The year was, oh I don’t know the year. I couldn’t even remember what I’d sat down to write until I’d stared at the screen for five minutes. The big girls are reading to each other, and I’m happily enchanted by the act. I might not remember the year, but I think I was wearing aqua marine eye shadow and skating to DC Talk’s I Love Rap Music.
I still love that song.
Anyway, that year, someone made fun of my laugh, and I didn’t laugh again for a week.
Someone else complimented my hair’s highlights (oh, how I miss those days), and I thought about my hair all day. I probably flipped it a few extra times, too.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will pretty much stick with me forever.
The best thing that happened that year was when my grandpa attended my orchestra’s performance and was so impressed that he offered to pay for my violin lessons.
The most traumatic thing that happened to me that year (or, in that relative time frame) was the ameba incident.
We were supposed to make a model of a single celled organism for science class. I made an ameba out of a balloon filled with water and shaving cream. It was slinky and fun to handle. I instantly knew that I had an “A” as my project was passed happily around the classroom. I had to ask for it back, actually, from the boy who was directly behind me. It was time for our reports, and I needed it for my presentation. He reached forward and I caught it gently. But as soon as both of my hands were on that slippery little ameba, it burst all over my lap.
Their was a collective gasp, then a pause, and our usually cranky science teacher gently guided me, and my sopping wet blue jeans, out of the classroom. “See if they have any extra clothes in the office,” she said.
Of course, they did have extra clothes in the office…clothes reserved for just such horrifying early teenage experiences. The secretary heartlessly handed me a sweat suit. A bright red sweat suit that was approximately twenty sizes too big. Walking around naked would have only been slightly more embarrassing.
As I walked the long mile back to class, I was just sure of what awaited me. Laughing and pointing. I’d seen Saved by the Bell. I should make a bee line to the nurse’s office. But I knew better than to delay the inevitable.
What actually awaited me, though, in that room full of junior high boys and girls who were all but strangers to me, the new girl, were empathetic smiles and nods. And when the boy behind me exclaimed, “Thanks, it smells so much better in here, now!” The whole class giggled and agreed.
As I walked home in my Santa suit, having avoided all audible insult, I felt like I had dodged the proverbial bullet. I thought maybe the teacher had told them a story about my having a deadly disease or something…but whatever the reason, I was grateful. I’ve never handled teasing very well.
I’ve thought about how the rest of the school year would have gone if the dramatic movie scene, playing over and over in my head as I turned the knob of the classroom door, would have been what actually happened that day. How well would I have bounced back, I wonder? Would brutal teasing have led to further introversion which would have led to more teasing? Instead, that year left me thinking of myself as a loved and protected violinist.
I think a whole life is set in motion, or often stunted, by those little things that happen in a moment. Quick compliments as well as quick insults can change, especially when we’re young, how we view the world and what we think about ourselves. When people treat us like we’re valuable, we value ourselves. When people demean us, over time, we usually begin to think we’re less than we are. I suppose, then, we could truly change the world by simply saying (in word and deed) to as many children as possible, “Jesus loves you. I love you. And I want to see you accomplish His plan for your life.”
Most of the world’s children have bigger problems than a bright red sweat suit and whether their classmates will laugh at them. We live in a time where I believe the majority of the world’s children are being abused, ignored, or are physically or emotionally starving. Satan tells these little ones, every single day, that they are less than those who have. Surely God would bless you if He cared.
Of course, we know that God doesn’t work that way. We know the poor and abused will be with us until the Kingdom of Heaven rests firmly on this earth. And until then, we have the job of pulling it down.
Would you take a minute, please, and watch this sweet video (which will resonate with all parents…all people). Dr. Wess Stafford, Compassion International’s inspiring founder, and the reason Compassion is my ministry, has something to say to you.
If you’re looking for a way to bless a child with an everlasting moment, please visit the Compassion website and have a look around. You can sponsor a child, write to a child, or give a one-time gift that I guarantee will be multiplied and used to extravagantly love children while furthering the Kingdom of Heaven. At Kingdom Twindom, we use a third of our ad money to sponsor three precious little boys in India and Nicaragua. Let me tell you, positively, that a letter closed, “from your loving son” is worth all the money in the world. So take a moment, think about something you can sacrifice for one of these little ones. Squash the lies of the enemy, and tell a child how special they are.