“Sticks and Stones may break my bones,
but words can never hurt me.”
If I had to name one word. One subject.
That makes me cringe.
This would be the word.
It happens everyday. We all know of stories of bullying.
We can all think of the person we went to school with that got bullied.
And we all hate it.
But no matter what.
It seems hard to stop.
What is it about humans that makes us want to be the same? Why are we scared of people who are different than us? What makes us shudder when someone has their own way of acting? Dressing? Talking? Singing? Dancing?
Why is it that after Kindergarten, we begin to care what others think?
And what is the appropriate balance between teaching our kids to be thoughtful of others, but to have thick skin too?
How can they productively cope without getting depressed or causing self harm?
Because I don’t know about you. But that poem at the top.
It’s not true.
Words do hurt.
Unless we can teach our little ones to learn when to care and when to not.
And I don’t have all the answers, but these are some of the things I want every sweet little creation of God to hear. You included.
So I’m writing them. It’s what my sons and I talked about tonight.
Dear Different One,
In life, you are going to have times where you feel similar to those around you. And in life, you will have times when you feel different. Probably more of the latter.
And likely, when those times come when you are different, your friends will likely want to let you know about it. And they may be harsh.
At that moment, you have a choice. To care or not to care?
And your instinct will likely be to care. And you may feel a twinge of hurt.
But I challenge you to think about this.
Don’t care. Unless you are genuinely hurting someone with your actions.
And if you can’t stop yourself from caring, don’t care long enough to let it hurt.
And if you can’t stop yourself from hurting, don’t keep it to yourself.
And certainly don’t let a mean word cause you to hurt your precious body.
Those people. Their words. Do not deserve your pain.
Tell your mom. Your Dad. Your teacher. Your cousin. Your friend. Your aunt.
Don’t live alone in quiet pain.
Let someone know you’re hurting so they can remind you that the type of people who cannot tolerate differences are the ones that are weak.
And most likely they are hurting inside.
So they call you fat.
Maybe you are.
So what’s their point?
They call you gay.
Maybe you are.
Maybe you aren’t.
Why do they care?
They call you stupid.
Riddle me this. Really.
Why do they care?
The aversion to differences is ridiculous. And immature.
Scripture teaches us that you were fearfully and wonderfully made in your mother’s womb.
God doesn’t shudder that you’re different. He made you TO BE EXACTLY YOU.
Think about it like this.
When you’re driving and see a grove of yellow trees and one red tree in the midst of them all, don’t you stop and notice the red one? Don’t you notice the beauty of the color red more than ever when it’s next to the yellow ones?
What about candy?
Have you ever opened a package of candy and found a random stray piece of another candy inside your box?
Have do you feel about the stray?
I always love it.
And I’m drawn to it.
I want to eat it up.
I like it more because it’s different.
Answer this. Do you want to be a Skittle among Skittles?
Or do you want to be a gummy bear that snuck into the Skittles’ box?
I like the rebels.
So, the next time someone calls you out for being different than them.
Look them square in the eye and calmly respond.
I’m happy to be different from you.
Remind me why you want me the same.
From Another Different One
And for the sweet children who have been bullied, I pray you see yourself as the most beautiful red tree in a vast grove of yellow ones.
I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well. Psalm 139:14