Life had never been worse and I couldn’t see it ever getting better. Taking my own life wasn’t an option so instead I asked God to take me in my sleep.
I’m so glad He heard me. I’m even more thankful He said no.
If you could see the details of my life laid out onto paper and then arrange the events in order from what you presume to be least-to-most painful, I guarantee you would be wrong.
It doesn’t make sense. Not even to me. My middle school years, on a pain scale, have everything beat. Life events including rape and the miscarriage of my third child were painful but still didn’t scar me as bad as my seventh grade experience. I’ve walked through several more seemingly painful events yet middle school was worse.
Here’s what happened……
Mostly, I was described as a carefree and fun-loving kid. My family lived in an apartment complex near Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin. Almost every waking moment was spent exploring the outdoors with a large group of friends. There wasn’t a person I didn’t get along with and I didn’t have a care in the world.
Then we moved.
We were now residents of Marinette Wisconsin, where people are born here… they die here… some without even leaving the border of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. I’m not saying this to pick on anyone. I live near Marinette now and I love it. I’m simply acknowledging that our culture historically hasn’t liked change- and I was the “new kid.”
My first day of school ended with a popular eighth grader and her side-kicks waiting for me. They aggressively pushed me around while explaining that their boyfriends had told them how I had “flashed” them. Their words were a bit more disgusting- I’ll spare you the details. All of it was completely fabricated. I hadn’t even talked to anyone yet!
I was completely shocked. Who would make that up? Better yet- who would believe it? Why me?
The girls waited for me almost daily. I can still remember the distinct feeling in my stomach on the way to school. Eventually, the terror at school wasn’t enough. They began calling my house and saying terrible things to me and eventually to my mom. My mom tried talking to the ring leader’s parent.
The other mom’s response was, “Your daughter must be what my daughter says she is because my daughter wouldn’t just make this up.”
I spent significant time eating at a lunch table alone. Even the teachers began to believe the rumors they were hearing. I remember one day being “chosen” to go to a special event in Green Bay. As soon as I got into the van and saw the other “chosen ones” I knew this event was social suicide. It was all the “at risk” kids that were getting in trouble and having babies in middle school. I spent many days asking, “What is happening to me” and “How did I end up here???”
Eventually the girls my age gave me a chance but the bullying continued through High School. I even got suspended for three days my freshman year. A girl, who wanted to be popular, waited for me after school and grabbed my hair, pulled me to the ground and began punching me in the face. This went on for several minutes before a teacher stopped it. The principal decided that he couldn’t determine who was telling the truth so the only fair thing to do was suspend us both. My question was, “fair to whom?”
Truth be told- my face looked so distorted that I was partly glad for the excuse not to be seen. On the other hand, I was so hurt by the continued injustice in my life. Nowadays I can see the impossible job the teachers must have had and continue to have.
The pain along with other unfortunate events lead me into a downward spiral. My parents were forced to make some tough choices. I was completely out of control. The day my mom transferred custody rights over to another family was a hard day. That day was the beginning of a very emotionally hard season that lasted for years (it’s how we as a church became connected with Rockford- a story for another time). Second hardest season for sure. Middle school was still more painful.
I know some of you have been through pain that is off the charts and you would trade with me in a heartbeat.
I agree with you.
What I described is not the worst thing in the world and I’m not sure why it was so deeply painful for me. There are many theories but nothing concrete.
As I sit here twenty years later and think about my middle school years, I can’t help but believe those times were “God Ordained.” You see, that experience changed me. And it prepared me for my adult life. God knew I would need extremely thick skin. God knew I would be in a position where people would be forced to form an opinion about me.
Sometimes comments reach my ears that are unfair and at times completely fabricated. As we continue to make news and noise for Jesus, there will be even more unkind words spoken. I don’t think I could have handled the weight had I not gone through that critical season called “middle school.”
I never thought I’d be able to say this but, “I am so thankful.”
The enemy meant to damage me beyond repair but the Lord was preparing me- even before I was surrendered to Him. I am honored to be able to relate to Joseph when He said,
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” -Genesis 50:20 (New International Version)
I am no longer sad. No longer do I hurt or hate. I am thankful, filled with hope and I am blessed.