I was the baby of five kids. When I was about three, My Dad became a "Hippy". He left the Rat-Race of the city of Milwaukee grew out his hair and his beard and moved out to the sticks to make a go of becoming a grocery store owner. We moved into an extremely small town and were not welcomed with open arms to say the least. The irony of that, is that today, the little town I grew up in is one of the biggest "Hippy Towns" around! It's in "style" now!
There was one family who lived in town that had a bunch of kids who were horrible to me when they WOULD play with me. Another family that had two girls who REFUSED to talk to me, ever. I think I was about six years old when one of them wrote on all the sidewalks and some walls in the town "CHRISSY PISSY". Okay... go ahead, LAUGH...
I remember being invited to a "Cleaning Party" to clean up this graffiti all over the town. I went at the urging of my mother who said they would probably have some nice snacks and it might be "fun." There were NO snacks, it was NOT FUN and the kids who I knew did it, were not even there to help clean up the mess.
Most children were horribly cruel to me. As I grew older I realized it was because of the small-town parents' prejudice and need to gossip rather than what I thought it was... my failure to be accepted and liked because of my inadequacy.
There were a couple times in grade school when the entire class of girls worked together and decided to not talk or play with me for a week. There was one girl in the whole entire class, Julie Garske, who would not go along with their "evil plan". (I still pray for that lovely woman!) She was a tom-boy though, so I never really got to play with her. One time I offered to take some of the girls' lunchboxes back to the classroom so that they would not have to walk so far. I heard one girl whisper to the other, "Don't let her touch it, she'll put DRUGS in your lunchbox." Where do EIGHT year old girls get ideas like THAT?? From nasty, gossipy, small town parents, that's who.
That stigma stayed with me all through my school years. I was always known as "Chrissy" by everyone because most of my classmates never took the time by High School to get to know the fact that I actually liked to be called Chris! My class had about 70 people in it and we were stuck together from Kindergarten to Senior High. Which is great if you come from a "reputable family".
My family may not have been "reputable" by some people's standards, but we sure had a lot of LOVE! My Momma and Daddy always believed in Jesus and taught us that He loved us and died for our sins. I gained the little self esteem I had from my family who loved me dearly. I had three big sisters who put up with my sassiness and a big brother who would always tease and torture me, but DID give me rides to school on his motorcycle! Of course all the kids accused me of just bringing the helmet to school so I could "look cool". Nice.
High School was probably worse. Because the girls got worse and the cliques were more defined. That was when the class above mine took over the job of making me feel like I was nothing. You KNEW your place. There was one boy who was a horrible bully to me. Made my life Hell every chance he got and I NEVER figured out what he had against me. Let me just say that I cannot read a Judy Blume book to this day without getting hives.
All through life, even when it was unbearable, there was always Hope. I had my wonderful dog, Cuddles, who was always there for me. When I was in fifth grade, I met a gal who was to be my best friend. Brenda Peterson. We were inseparable and my parents' constant joke when she came to the house was "Lock the refrigerator!" She is my dear friend to this day and if I pick up the phone to talk to her it's like we haven't missed a day. She and her now husband actually introduced me to my OTHER best friend, Frank Wileman, when I was 22!
One of the things I tell my daughter today when she feels insignificant and shy in group gatherings (as I almost always do on the inside). Is to reach out to the person who perhaps is needing a friend and probably feeling the exact same way. "Just BE friendly, like your Dad!" I tell her. I hope and pray that she will have her Daddy's ability of being able to talk to a rock in a public setting.
Where is the HOPE in this story? Hope is in the fact that I am DONE with High School! HA! Hope is in the fact that I know that many of YOU share the same pain I went through and some even worse! But it has made you and I a better and more kind and compassionate person because of the treatment we received. Hope in the fact that I have always known that Jesus loves me... and that there has always been someone along the way who has allowed me to feel the worth that I have. Hope to have the ability to instil worth in others because of the love I received from my Jesus, my family, my best-est friend and even my sweet little Doggie growing up.
My hope is in the fact that we can find worth in loving others with the love that Jesus has for us! Bullying may never go away and prejudice and gossip will not stop any time soon. But you all know the Sunday School answer to all of that CRAP... Jesus Loves me!
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
The 25th Class Reunion was a BLAST. I had two friends that I am closer with show up, which made it very fun and comfortable. It was almost as though there was this bond between us all that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. Everyone was kind to each other and genuinely wanting to enjoy catching up with the other. It was as though, for each of us, all the bad memories flew away! We chose to only hold on to the good ones and I was reminded that there really were many good ones. I was completely humbled. Yes, we all grew up, and I think, grew more compassionate.
At one point in the evening, a gal whom I always considered "one of the most popular girls in class" told me in a conversation, "You are just beautiful!" Then she actually asked me if I had ever felt that she was mean to me!?? I told her how I knew we really hung out with separate groups, but she was never mean to me in High School! Matter of fact I named my daughter Holly! Which everyone knows you could never name your own daughter after the mean kid! It was a very touching conversation and made me really realize how very level the playing field of life is!
True confession? A part of me would like people to read this blog and feel all sorry for me and how rough I had it. It's not that I made anything up, it really was a hard time. But the truth is that I got out of high school and found a new "cool clique" to hang out in. It was a "church clique". But what I found in my heart and attitude was that I was slowly turning into the exact type of person that rejected me in my school years! As if I were somehow better than others. I am not.
This song is one that touched me deeply on how we treat others. It makes me think about how I want to always BE... how I pray I can raise my baby girl to BE. Where kindness and compassion reign in your heart no matter how hard it is to fight against the "crowd". I've learned many of these lessons after High School!
I'm so very thankful for the HOPE in the lessons of this life!