As someone who was bullied and didn’t really have a lot of friends from about the 3rd grade until sophomore year of high school I learned a thing or two about being judged. I didn’t have the coolest clothes or backpack and I certainly didn’t hang out with the cool kids on the weekend doing whatever they did. Instead I worried about people staring at my big ears or if someone would find my lunch box at the bottom of my bag, because apparently a metal Hot Wheels lunch box wasn’t cool in the 5th grade. With that, I became very conscious of everything I did and how people might judge me. In turn, I began to look at others the same way. In fact I still struggle with judging people today. Whether it is the guy tatted up buying Bud Ice at Walmart or the guy driving an old beat up Honda Civic with huge speakers and no muffler, I have an opinion about them, their life story, and why they were so much worse off than me. It can make me miserable, and it used to be pretty bad.
To be honest I don’t really remember when I started to have a change of heart. Maybe it was when an already tight group of friends let me hang out with them after my date ditched me at MORP my senior year. Perhaps it was when I became best friends with my roommate freshman year of college after we both weireded each other out in our first impressions. Either way, God put people in my life to teach me two simple lessons: I’m not better than anyone because we are all different and unique, and everyone has a story with a reason to be loved.
To address the first lesson about me not being better than anyone I should reference my being bullied. See while I was never physically bullied, psychologically I was fighting a losing battle against other kids, myself, and the devil. Despite being decently athletic I wasn’t friends with the cool kids so I was always picked close to last, wasn’t invited to sit with them at lunch, and I definitely was not picked up with them in carpool to do fun things after school. Wow writing about that now seems so petty, but weird and nerdy little Chuck took those things hard. I saw them as signs of rejection. I told myself I wasn’t wanted by my peers, and the devil reminded me about it constantly. So I tried to fit in.
I tried to beat the system. In my mind if I did the things that the cool kids did that I would magically fit in, get picked, and have lots of friends. But as I’m sure you can guess I couldn’t beat the system. I was constantly reminded how much of a nerd I was, or how I just wasn’t good enough. At this point I realized I couldn’t beat the system but maybe I could change it. Surely I wasn’t the nerdiest, or the biggest goody two shoes, or the weirdest Christian around. There had to be others that were less cool than me. Indeed there were, and I made sure that I found them. I didn’t do it to prove to others that I wasn’t the worst. I did it to prove to myself that I had more worth than someone else. In my head I put others down, found their quirks and thought “at least I don’t do that”, and just in general mentally bullied them to make myself feel better.
Needless to say, my pain was only temporarily relieved. I did not gain anything. The devil was still there to remind me of how I didn’t fit in, even when my peers didn’t. But things started to change when I got to high school. Part of it was that my relationship with God grew exponentially as I really began to claim my faith as my own and realize that I am His child no matter what. The other part was that I found acceptance in a random group of friends. God placed Mackenzie, Mac, Ashley, Dalton, Emily, and Brooks in my life for many things, but the one thing that always stands out was that they accepted me for who I was, and there were no questions asked. I mean yeah I had made more and more friends in high school, even a couple girlfriends too, and those friend groups were awesome. But this new one was special. Here was a group that had been friends forever, and they just let me be a part of their group no questions asked. No judgement. (Also shout out to Mac for letting me dance with Ashley after I was left high and dry, true bro.)
It was through those budding friendships that I realized that I don’t need to build myself up over others so that I can feel like I’m worth something or prove something to anyone. There is no need to assume that someone else is dumb because they cannot do something that I can do or are ignorant about a certain subject. (Note: it is oaky to be ignorant because it simply means you don’t know that you don’t know.) In fact, that thought process has become something that I absolutely loathe. I cannot stand when someone makes fun of someone for not being able to do something. Now those who know me know that yeah I will make a joke if you don’t know how to do something that might be a little basic. However, right after I make that joke, I will do anything to help you figure out how to do whatever it is that you are struggling with. After all that is what Christ has done with us. Here we are hopeless sinners in need of a savior and instead of laughing at us because we don’t know the way to heaven Jesus shows us the way. He takes us by the hand and guides us.
I really wish that more people were like that today. In fact, that reminds me of one of my pet peeves: people who make fun of others in the gym. Whether it is the fat person trying to get in shape, the person who doesn’t know how to do an exercise properly, or someone who can’t lift much weight, not everyone is a gym rat. So stop recording them on snapchat and posting their valiant efforts and painful fails because it’s not funny. Think of the courage it took for them to come to the gym, maybe even for the first time. Everyone started somewhere, so why not go help them out and teach them what you know so that they can get started on the path to their goals?
Sorry about that mini rant. It just really highlights my point. We each have a different set of talents, goals, abilities, and tastes given to us by God, and throughout our life we learn things based on how we were raised to prepare us to do His will. That means that as a city boy I might not fix as many engines or ride as many dirt bikes as my country counterpart. But does that make me any lesser of a man or a child of God? Absolutely not. That is what makes me different. My skills are in sports and politics. That’s where my calling is. So does it matter how fast I can rebuild the front end of a car or do drywall? While I’d love to be able to do both, the answer is no.
But there is someone out there who could rebuild the front end of a car in a weekend and patch up some drywall on their lunch break and that’s awesome. That’s what they’re good at. Just as I wouldn’t want them to look down upon me and make fun of me for not being able to fix a set of disk brakes, I shouldn’t look down on them for not being able to kick a soccer ball very far. We have different skills. We all do. So let’s stop looking at our neighbor and thinking that wow I might be dumb but at least I know how to *insert task you think is simple* because to some people it might not be. We all fail at something, and when we do we would love to see a friendly face staring back at us saying that it’s okay and to not be embarrassed. No one wants to be laughed at and called an idiot simply because they were ignorant. We all could use a little more love and compassion. So go out and make a difference in someone’s life. Be there to support not to demean.
Now in closing I think that it is very important that I highlight one thing, well two things. First I will talk about the second lesson in a second blog post so stay tuned. But as far as the first lesson goes remember this: in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talked about how murder begins in the heart just like adultery (Matthew 5:21-30). In the passage he explains the new covenant and that you don’t have to actually kill someone to have committed a sin equivalent to murder, “You have heard the it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgement. But I say to you whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement.” That same concept applies to judging others and bullying them. Just like I mentally bullied people in middle school so that I could feel better about myself, when we think of someone as a lesser person for failing or being ignorant, we are still sinning against God because they are made in His image just like us. Also, trust me; it does not make you feel better about yourself in the long term. So to Kassandra Shands-Cherry, Harmony Tarrant, Braden Dunford, Ramond Motely, and anyone else that I bullied but have woefully forgotten, if you ever read this blog post I’m sorry and I hope that you can forgive me. You never knew my thoughts but trust me they weren’t nice and I’m sorry. To the rest of you, go out and be Jesus to the world. Be that helping and compassionate hand someone needs. Show others how to change a tire, and while you’re at it show them the way to eternal life: to the Father through the Son.