It started in grade three when a new girl came to our school. We’ll call her C. C was outgoing, fun, pretty and everyone wanted to be her friend – me most of all. We sat beside each other in class and started walking home from school together.
C and I were a lot alike. We both liked to talk and we both liked being the center of attention. Except when C realized that some of the kids paid more attention to me than her, she started spreading rumors. She lied and told the other kids that I stunk, that I was gross, and that they shouldn’t play with me at recess. And her influence was strong enough that pretty soon I was spending every recess alone.
I remember the spot I’d go to when I had no one to play with at recess…an old garbage can tipped over at the edge of the field. As soon as the recess bell rang I’d walk straight there, plop myself down in the snow with my head resting on the bin and cry.
In class, kids started calling me Heather dweeb (my last name was Wiebe) and boys bugged me about not having developed a chest yet (this was in grade 4 and 5!!!). One day the teacher was talking about the theory that the world was flat and I pipped up “but the earth isn’t flat!” and one of the cool boys in my class yelled out “but you are!”. Everyone laughed. It’s silly now, but it stung.
After four years of being bullied, rejected and picked on in Elementary school, I begged my parents to send me to a private Christian school for Jr. High. For some reason I thought that would solve all of my problems. They agreed and I hoped for a new start.
Except it just began all over again, with a new set of kids, some even more harsh than the others had been. The girls I tried to befriend ignored me, gossiped about me and told me I couldn’t sit with them at lunch. I wondered what was so wrong with me.
Was a really that detestable?
This continued throughout grade 7, bringing me to my lowest point, midway through grade 8. I was at home on a school night and the phone rang. I picked up and it was one of my friends from church (I had made a few close friends at my youth group that year, my only reprieve from the bullying at school). I was happy to hear her voice and we starting chatting. Suddenly three other voices chimed in and I realized it was a 5-way conference call with my small group from church. But instead of it being a fun conversation between girlfriends, it turned sour fast.
The girls hadn’t called to chat about the sleepover we were planning for the weekend. They were calling to read me a list. It was a list they had written together, behind my back.
A list of all of the reasons they hated me and didn’t want me to be in their group anymore. As they read it too me they laughed.
The phone slipped from my hand and crashed to the floor.
My fragile adolescent heart shattered into a million pieces. I’d never been so hurt in my life. And the saddest thing of all is I believed every horrible word they said.
I believed the lies they spoke were true, and that I was undeserving of loving, caring friends.
Over the next few years I was lovingly mentored by an amazing women from church and through her influence, realized I needed to stop caring so much about what others thought. Instead of trying so hard to be popular and liked, I needed to go to God for the love and acceptance. I took her words to heart.
I fell in love with Jesus and He transformed me. He took an insecure, striving teenaged girl and turned her into a confident young women.
But not confident in myself and my own abilities. Confident in who HE HAD MADE ME TO BE. Confident in the one who died for me and now lived inside of me.
Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”