So the first Starfish Story to be shared is one I believe we can all relate to in some shape or another; experience of bullying. Last night at my youth group One Way, we shared with the kids the impacts of bullying, talked about our experiences together and introduced them to the Australian anti-bullying campaign called "The String Movement" (2010).
I shared with the girls my experiences of bullying currently happening within my own adult life such as being ignored, left alone and being spoken to in nasty ways by other adults. The kids seemed shocked by this, but I have faith it was good for them to realise that even adults face scary and intimidating moments in their lives.
I also shared with the girls my 7th grade experience with bullies.
It began when I did what all adolescent girls do when they are trying to discover who they are; I cut my hair. For the first time I had a side fringe (*bangs for my American readers). I felt confident and beautiful. What I didn't know, was that a side fringe was a stereotypical feature of the group of people called 'emos'. This hairstyle choice led to my ridicule from my peers. The name calling began which didn't phase me as I had limited ideas as to what an "emo" was. As it continued I received nasty notes, yelled at on my bus and told countless times to "die" and was instructed to "cut myself, for result". My peers and even highschoolers years older than me were involved. I even got a lunch bag of sharpener blades in my school bag one time. Lucky me!
Unfortunately due to the mix of bullying and other events which will be saved for another blog, I began to self harm. Not my wisest choice but at this point I knew no other way to deal with the bullying...
I went to my year adviser seeking guidance. His golden advice? "Take shortcuts to class". Yep.
This lasted for one semester before I changed schools and returned to my old one which in all honesty, had it's own fair share of bullying.
I was bullied continuously in many different ways throughout my entire high school experience. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to endure but I'm extremely proud that I did.
I met God in the middle of highschool, year 9. After becoming a Christian, I was able to hold my head higher and face the cruelty of highschool. Did it still hurt? Yeah! Did I still feel alone? Yes! And did I still hate highschool? Sure did. But I had a new faith and a new protector who I trusted with everything I had. He has guided me through everything.
Psalm 27:1 states that "You Lord, are the light that keeps me safe. I am not afraid of anyone. You protect me and I have no fears" (CEV)
This is how I felt. I knew I had a God on my side that created the heavens and the earth. So therefore, I knew he could handle some pesky highschool kids giving me a hard time!
He may not have shot them down with a lightening bolt, but He gave me the patience, strength and courage to face them and finish highschool.
I encourage you, if you are a victim of bullying, don't claim that to be your identity. Claim yourself to be a prince or princess with strength and honour. Highschool isn't the end. It's a life experience. Some people have different experiences which do not define you. They simply strengthen and build you. Keep going. You'll make it.
Your Starfish Story is being written. . . Have faith.