Recently, I was challenged to think of a time when I felt other than the people around me. It wasn’t difficult. That has been a common experience for me throughout most of my life! I have usually felt like the odd man out. The weird one. The one who didn’t fit.Recently, I was challenged to think of a time when I felt other than the people around me. It wasn't difficult. That has been a common experience for me throughout most of my life! Click To Tweet
It didn’t help that I often was surrounded by people who were only too eager to point out to me the fact that I didn’t fit for one reason or another. It didn’t help that I skipped a grade and was small for my age, slow to develop and was a year younger than my peers. Those facts just combined to make me that much odder.
My parents were concerned for me that I was being bullied (the term wasn’t used then unless you were getting literally beat up) but that is what was happening, in junior high school in the small christian school I attended. (My dad was principal.) I was coming home in tears for quite a few days in a row for awhile.
For some reason, they seemed to think the solution to the problem would be to send me to a boarding school in North Carolina. (We lived in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.) stop
They seemed to know what they were doing. Maybe this was a good solution. It seemed rather drastic. But overall, I’m an optimist. Yes, I get depressed, but I’m optimistic that things will work out. So I went along with the plan for my second semester of eighth grade.
Imagine my surprise when I found not only more bullying, but other problems as well…and no break from the boarding school!
What did I find? A whole new layer of bullying! Eighth grade was much smaller at this high school. All the other eighth grade girls were grown up physically except me. They all made fun of me because of it…as if I could control the rate my hormones were kicking in!
They had asked the one boy in the school who had lived in Ft. Lauderdale, if he knew me and of course he did. As it turned out, he and his brother were MK’s who had lived with our family a short time. It was a horrible experience for them. I was his age and he and I argued all the time! As you know, it takes two to argue! Of course, he told everyone I talked too much so I had a reputation before I got there! It was awful. There was no place to get away from the trouble either. I was stuck!
That was the beginning of my feeling other than and not in a good way. There didn’t seem to be much I could do to measure up, catch up, or make up for all the lacks I had. No matter what happened, I was the laughing stock of many of the students…especially the girls in my grade.
There is a reason I have had a heart for those who are the lonely and left out. I was often that person.
This question was posed at a recent retreat I attended…by an African American woman speaking to a room full of caucasian women. She was telling us her story that also included the fact that she was Aftrican American and other than in some respects. It isn’t just in ways we can see, but in ways we can’t see. As she spoke, I began to have more insight on this issue as I compared it to my other than experiences. They are different, but they are similar too.There is a reason I have had a heart for those who are the lonely and left out. I was often that person. Click To Tweet
There is no question that slavery is an awful darkness on our history. But one thing almost all of us have in common is that feeling of being other than. We don’t like feeling that way. Sometimes it is based on fact. The other people truly think less of you because of…(you name it). Sometimes it is within you. You feel less than, but it is in your head. It doesn’t make the feeling any less powerful, but knowing how to find our value in who we are in Christ helps as well as not getting into the habit of comparing ourselves with others.
How can we encourage those around us who feel uncomfortable because they feel different or don’t fit in for one reason or another. Find ways to show that we love them that they can receive.
Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Of course, there is more to this story. I’ll add more soon. Meanwhile, join me at Five Minute Friday with my friends who write there.
Also, if you tend to read my blog much, would you please go here, read the short post and write a comment there or send me an email? I want to get to know my readers better so I will know who my typical reader is. I realized I have no idea!