School days are coming...

Feb 28, 2014

I was driving to work this morning and I passed an elementary school on the way.  In a quick glance at the field I saw a large group of kids walking in circles, young kids in what looked like a walk-a-thon or a school wide gym class, either way there was a lot of them.  But in the group closest to the street was a tall girl, with a high ponytail and a too big white t-shirt, she stood out to me only because in the split second that I passed the field I saw a boy, just as tall, push her violently to the ground.   I was so shocked, I found myself rubbernecking and audibly gasping for the little girl.  She stood up, brushed herself off, looked at the boy and for the sake of not straining my neck and stopping traffic that is all that I saw.  In that brief 15 second drive by pushing, I thought "where are the teachers? Who is going to stop this injustice and step in for this helpless little girl?".  And then I thought, of course I am thinking these things, I am a mom, I want to save all the kids from the bullies of this world.  Save them all from the inevitable moments of unwelcome negative attention. 

I want to save my children from the bullies but I also want to save them from becoming one themselves.  I can remember numerous occasions when I obliviously became a bully myself.  I got caught in the emotion of acceptance and followed the crowd, took the easy way.  I never led the crowd but I certainly knew how to follow.

An ex boyfriend once told me "think for yourself, what do you believe, what do you actually want" of course this was in the context of a breakup, but his tone and honesty has always stuck with me.  He called me out on my lack of ability to make my own decisions.  Until I met my husband while studying over seas, away from the pressures of familiarity, I followed the crowd.  I had no idea who I was.

I think the first real decision I made in my life was to leave everything that I knew and study abroad, this one, seemingly tiny decision altered my entire future.  Even the idea of leaving was prompted by my best friend, and I was inclined to follow.  I wavered back and forth, turned in the paper work the day it was due, was accepted, and came within a second of backing out, staying behind to continue on in the complacent Christian college life I was currently being drowned in.  Except in that last second I had an actual thought, a conviction, and sometimes in my most honest moments, I call it a conversation with God that went straight to my heart.  I was done wavering, I was done giving in to the people that I surrounded myself with. I was done being bullied into a life that was quickly spiraling.  I was going to do something for myself, by myself, I was going to make a decision.  And I did, and I was beyond blessed.  God gave me an independence in that moment that I had never felt.  I felt the freedom that he had been offering me over and over and I never took.  I was stuck behind boyfriends, unintentional friend groups, and what everyone else thought was best for my life.  Before that day I wavered back and forth between fears, fears of loneliness, fears of failure, fears of sin and dark places that I never wanted to return.  Fear ran my life, but in the end the fear of fear gave me freedom.

The summer before I left for London was my happiest.  I made new friends, friends that didn't pressure me to be something that inside I was not, I dated boys, boys that didn't give me a kiss and expect something darker in return.  I laughed, I laughed a lot.  I finally broke away from the invisible chains that grew in size with every passing year, pressing me down, harder and harder, until I was left confused and heavy, burdened and tired.  I left that summer refreshed and renewed, chains broken and my soul restored. Ready for a new beginning.  And God gave it to me. 

I now look at my life and actually see the decisions I made, years have past and I see the unintentional bully I had become to myself.  I hope that I can teach my children to make decisions, to be leaders of their lives, not followers of other peoples.  And I hope when the bully at school knocks them down that they can get up, grab the hand of a friend and move on just a little bit stronger.