Today I was reading a book and in it it said “what we go through in our life God uses to shape us into who we are today”.
Those words got me to reflecting on my own life and I can see that it is true.
As a kid I moved around a lot. I started kindergarten at Mark Twain Elementary school in Florissant, Mo. I stayed at that school until the end of my 3rd grade year. During the summer our family moved to Doniphan, Missouri, I stayed there for all of 4th grade. Our house burned down during the summer after 4th grade so we moved again and I started 5th grade at another new school. We then we moved back to the old school after after our house was finished. After Christmas that same year we moved again, this time to Las Vegas, Nevada where I finished 5th grade. We then moved back to Doniphan again and I spent 6th grade there. 7th grade 2 more moves both of those in Illinois, different schools though. The summer before 8th grade a move again back to Missouri where we stayed until I finished 8th grade. We moved once more during the summer and I started a new school for high school but was able to stay at the same school for all of my high school years. That’s 10 schools between 3rd and 9th grade! I can’t believe I remember all that!
Kids tended to pick on me a lot and because I was always moving I was always different than everyone else. I never dressed like they did and I was very tall for my age towering over most of the kids. I was also very shy so I did not really have the self confidence to try to start a friendship. Some kids even said I was a snob.
At several schools the kids were so cruel I look back now and wonder where were the adults? Were they not paying attention or did they just not care? In 5th grade while living in Las Vegas I remember having stuff thrown at me and one boy chasing me with a hammer which he threw it at me. The kids also called me names and made fun of the way I talked.
At one school I attended in 7th grade my cousin was also a student there and nobody liked her so they started picking on me the first day, just because I was her cousin. Riding the bus was a nightmare I had no choice but to ride in the morning but I used to walk home from school every night staying blocks away from where the bus would travel because I knew if it went by and the kids saw me they would yell names and throw things out the windows at me. Half way through that school year we moved to another school where I soon found out I had been moved to a neighborhood in which there was busing of kids due to desegregation. I was the white child who was bused to the black school. The adults who decided this move must not have thought this one out well because they did not divide us equally. They only moved 20 percent of us each way, I am sure the 20 percent who went to the white school probably went through the same sort of things I went through.
At that school I spent my days carrying all my things because if I used my locker they were stolen. I could not go to the bathroom or I would be cornered and beaten up just because of the color of my skin. This was not a school rule it was a kid rule. I pretty much avoided anywhere I could be cornered. I truly was terrified that year of school until I made friends with 2 very nice girls (different color skin than me) who became my best friends they also stood beside me not caring what the other kids thought. I am not telling this story to say black people were being mean to me it was KIDS who were mean to me. The problem was bullying, and yes probably a bit of racism. I believe racism can go both ways. I was really too young at the time to really understand any of it and now looking back it still does not make a bit of sense. After 7th grade year we moved again and for 8th grade I went to another school. At this school I was picked on by a couple of girls but not as much as I had been before.
The last move I made was the summer before I started high school. I was not even at school yet and the neighborhood girls wanted to fight me. One day the girls sent a messenger (a little boy) to come tell me they wanted to fight me and they wanted me to meet them up the street. I am not sure what happened but that day something snapped inside of me and I went to meet them. I was done being bullied and felt brave for some reason. When I got there 5 girls and a slew of neighborhood spectators were waiting. When I asked what their problem with me was they accused me of trying to “steal their boyfriends”, I remember thinking at the time, really?? Boys did not like me like that in that neighborhood because I was the neighborhood geek. I did hang around with the boys but that was because I had a brother and I hung around with him and his friends I was like one of the guys! I told them that I did not want their boys I just wanted friends. I remember thinking someone would hit me but not one girl laid a hand on me that day. The next day I was riding my bike down the street and one of the girls stopped me and asked me if I wanted to come to her house and listen to music. I did and from that day on I became a one of them. I became one of the ‘cool’ kids. It was the first time in my life I had been a part of the ‘in’ crowd. These girls were the tough girls of the neighborhood and nobody messed with them and I soon found out the key to not being picked on was to act tough. So I spent my high school years acting like a tough girl, I know it was not my best moment but it is how I survived.
Now as an adult I look back on that. I got to thinking how most of my life growing up I lived day to day never really feeling like anything was permanent. When times were hard I knew it wasn’t for long because usually we moved again. Sometimes to a better place but sometimes worse, but I always had hope it would get better.
I look back now and realize that I am still the same way now. I do have bad days and pity parties but most days I just go through them knowing it will not be forever. I also have a way of somehow noticing the good stuff more than the bad. If I had dwelled on the bad as a child I would never have made it. When I hear of a child who commits suicide because of bullying I wonder why some have the ability to cope and some don’t. As a child the thought of suicide never crossed my mind. I just went home and played my records and wrote poems or stories about happy stuff. Was I odd? I don’t know but I truly think I was a pretty happy child even on bad days.
You may be wondering where was God in all this?
Our family never attended church that I can remember. The only time I went to church was with a friend or my grandma took me when I stayed with her and I attended a couple of vacation bible schools. I know that even though I did not know Jesus as a child he was still there with me. I remember in 4th grade at a vacation bible school they gave an invitation to accept Jesus and I went up. I did not really understand it all but I still know to this day I felt Jesus and he came into my heart. Because I did not go to church except about once a year he ended up being pushed by the wayside and I never really got the chance to know what having him in my heart meant. Now I realize because I lived in a family who did not go to church or talk about Jesus I never really had opportunity to grow in him.
Today as I reflect back I can see that 4th grade was the beginning of all the moves and I truly think Jesus was still there with me helping to carry me through it all even if I didn’t really know it at the time. It was him who gave me the peace and him who showed me the good things in life even when all the bad things were going on all around me.
I am not sure why our family moved all the time. I think maybe my parents were trying their best to give their family a good life and all the moving was for jobs or other circumstances. Our house burning down caused 2 of the moves. Though it was really hard growing up moving around all the time, I would not give it up because it is what helped make me into the person I am today.
I also know that as I grew up God kept putting people in front of me all the time to show me he was there but I failed to recognize him and ended up eventually not believing in him at all. As a grown up I filed him away like I had Santa Claus and the tooth fairy as just things grown ups tell children to make them happy.
Eventually one day I came to my senses…(story HERE) and I recognized Jesus again I knew he was alive and well and that he loved me and he still wanted me and I wanted him.
The day I accepted Jesus again was also the day I began coming back to that little girl I had put away. The little girl who saw the good among the bad stuff and trusted things could get better. Once I got to know her again she was able to heal and move forward and get past all the hurt from her past and become the woman I am today.
In the Bible is a verse – Matthew 18 3-5 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. and whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
I realize now that to fully live life as God intended us to live we have to put away all that junk we were taught we are supposed to be as an adult. Come to him like a child fully trusting him with our lives. Taking what sometimes seems like the hard road yet in the end we find his road was actually the best road. Once we trust in him and follow his lead we find ourselves going places that make us go wow! That wow place is where we realize just how much he truly loves us. That is the day we start to see the good stuff is still always there even among the bad stuff. When we follow his lead we find that we are capable of so much more than we could ever imagine.
Are you having a hard time today? Feeling like you do not know where you belong, feeling unloved unworthy and tired? I promise you if you talk to Jesus about it he will show you how much you are loved. YOU are important and when you feel like you have nothing you really can have everything because He is everything. I really do no know any way to explain that, but if you would just give him a try I promise you will see.
Thanks for reading and God bless you,