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Bullying: My Story

November 14, 2018

Growing Up

My experiences of bullying was both verbal and physical.

It happened consistently in elementary and middle school. Fortunately, it didn’t really happen all that much during high school. 

I usually describe myself as a “different” kind of kid growing up. It was the only way I could really explain why I was such a target for bullies. I look back now after sharing my story with my wife, family and friends, that it wasn’t so much that I was “different,” but that I was genuinely being more of myself than majority of my classmates. 

They were the ones with the problem. Not me. And it took a long time to grasp hold of that reality. 

I wasn’t into sports. I loved writing and drawing. I loved reading. I was into cartoons and comics. I loved keeping up with current events. I was really into science, technology and sci-fi. I even had a bit of an obsession with Nuclear Power and Nuclear Energy.  I was a regular boy … but my classmates thought I was weird, a freak of nature, different.

I can vividly remember my time at S.S. Conner Elementary. Whenever I said my name, some of the boys and girls in my class would mock me … repeating my name and what I would say and how they thought I sounded. I wore glasses, sometimes had a nasally speech, and would often be called “Steve Urkel,” the kid that was on ABC’s Family Matters.

When it came to classroom seating or classroom projects, the kids would act repulsed and disgusted to be around me. 

I would be called names like “gay,” “stupid,” “slow,” “retarded,” and the list went on and on. 

Sometimes, the fights got physical. Whether it was on the playground or on the way home, I would sometimes be followed around by a group of boys who would try to fight me and often hit me, laughing at me, mocking me. 

During that time, I would tell my parents and they would talk to the teachers and the principal.

The solution for my bullying problem was often: “just ignore them!” And to make matters worse, sometimes the teachers or other adults around just wouldn’t care to do anything about it. 

It felt like people who were in authority failed me.

Once, I was told by one of my parents, “if you let yourself get beaten up, you’re getting a spanking.” 

So, I spent a large amount of my childhood avoiding physical conflict out of fear of getting hurt and out of fear of punishment. 

That threat only made matters worse. 

Middle school was the worst time for me. When I was going to Gaston Middle School I would take the school bus. The bus was usually very full and on really hot days, incredibly humid and uncomfortable. Kids would purposely try and keep me from sitting down, sometimes tripping me as I walked down the aisle. 

If I sat in the front or near the middle, I was safe most of the time. I had very, very few friends and the ones I did have we mostly hung out at the bus stop for survival, hoping we wouldn’t be talked too or talked about. 

I would hope and pray every single day that the kids on the bus, especially the ones in the middle section and the back of the bus, wouldn’t speak to me or get eye contact with me. When they did, they would talk about my looks and belittle me in any and every way to make me feel embarrassed and humiliated. 

I remember the soul-stinging remarks of one kid who stared straight at me and said in front of everyone, “if he and I were related, he would kill himself.” 

Some would ask me, “why do you act white!?” and “why do you talk white.” Others got personal, even sexual with their comments, but I would never answer or make conversations apart from telling them to “shut up” or “leave me alone.”  

Many of those days and nights ended with me angry, sad, frustrated, crying and embarrassed and disappointed over the fact that I couldn’t do more about my bullying situation. 

Most of my survival of those bullying experiences involved me going to the counselors office where sometimes I would sit, hang out and talk out some of my thoughts and frustrations. Some teachers and other officials took a liking to me, even though my classmates would not.

Adulthood

At the writing of this article, I’ve worked out a lot of issues in my life that came from bullying, from abuse and from the anxiety that weighed me down and the thoughts I had about the adults in my life then and now. 

Growing up in the church and maintaining a real and whole relationship with God and being a follower of Jesus Christ, my mind and heart has been changing in the following ways:

  • My life has purpose, value and worth!
  • I am more of who I was made to be and daily living to be who God made me to be. 
  • I forgive my bullies. (THIS took some time. Read the article below)
  • I forgive the adults who failed me growing up. 
  • And the latest one … I’m learning that there are times that you will have to fight … and sometimes those fights are not with fisticuffs (fists). The fight can also be spiritual and internal. A fight for your heart and mind is going on. 
  • For more details, read this article: https://kendalllyons.com/2017/09/18/calvin-and-hobbes-the-real-biblical-response-to-bullying/

As an adult, I look back and I look at present day issues on bullying, knowing that it is not an easy thing to overcome. 

A lot has changed in the way we deal with bullying now, especially when we’ve seen the affects it has on children, teens and adults.

I commit to talking more and more about bullying … more than I used too!

Solution

My desk area where I do some of my writing. Also, inspired by my action figures of Sonic, Tails and Much More! (c) Cartoon Daily News, 2013.

To every kid, to every adult who feels like they can’t go on and that the bullying has gotten out of hand, I want you to know that you are not alone. 

You’re not a loser. You’re not a failure. You’re not a nobody.

You matter! You’re unique! You’re genuine!

You have more people now to tell. You have opportunities to stand up. You have options. 

Don’t give up! Don’t give up on your life. Don’t give up on being successful. Don’t give up on being who you really are. Don’t give up on the hope and faith that things can and will be get better! 

And, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. You can start by speaking up. You can start by not taking it all and going it all alone. 

And, for those are needing to be walked with on the journey of survival and overcoming bullying, I am more than happy to use the power of the pen and the keyboard to walk with you. 

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A Merry Heart

September 5, 2018

"Angelo Rules" by Team TO and Cake Entertainment

“Angelo Rules” by Team TO and Cake Entertainment

 

One of the things I’m grateful for is a “merry,” or cheerful heart. My wife woke up one morning to this scripture she shared with me … Proverbs 17:22 …

A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

It has been days since Rachel and I read that scripture and discussed it in length. We know that there’s a lot going on in the world, our culture, our own life and our family and it can be kind of tough to actually be “cheerful” or “merry.”

It has actually been really nice that she’s been reminding me of how cheerful I always tend to be. In fact, the running joke is that I don’t really need too much more caffeine because of how cheerful I am most days.

Usually you have to wait for the holidays for that, right? A dozen or more genuine “Merry” Christmas responses should do it, right?

But, what if it was a choice.

What if we chose to see the blessings that God has given us. I woke up that morning because the Lord so willed for me to be up and alive that morning. I have a sound mind. I have a portion of health and strength. But, more importantly, I know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And that’s enough to be cheerful about.

But, note the wording in the scripture. “A merry heart does good, like medicine….”

The world is full of things in front of us by which we can medicate ourselves. But, the end result will only be an artificial cheerfulness, an artificial and temporary “merry” state, a temporary happiness.

“A broken spirit,” sadness and desperation is draining. It is completely opposite of being cheerful. As the text says, it “dries the bones.”

But, when we find ourselves in God’s Word, spending time in prayer and consistently focusing on Christ in our circumstances, the real medication for our ailment of sinfulness, we can have a “merry” heart, which does good like medicine.

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“Being Ian” owned by Nelvana

A few days ago I was watching “Being Ian,” a cartoon series that I have over the year grown quite fond of.

The story follows a boy named Ian Kelley and his family and friends. In this particular episode, Ian was trying to get a movie he made for a contest submitted to an awards group in Los Angeles.

The contest was ALL that Ian could think about. He was on his way to Los Angeles via an RV family road trip with his father, mother and two brothers. Only, one problem! Everything that could go wrong went wrong.

Of course Ian, being who he is, filmed with his video camera every single event that took place with his family on the trip.

Ian’s dad was all about staying true to an itinerary of multiple stops and side trips which made Ian anxious.

In an attempt to try and get to Los Angeles more quickly, Ian messes with his dad’s itinerary. Ian’s dad finds out and refuses to change his plans. While they make it to Los Angeles on time, they have a wreck in Hollywood that leaves Ian no choice but to throw out his copy of the movie in order to keep from falling off the Hollywood sign with the RV.

He tries to get his friends from back home to make a copy, but, the copy is deleted.

All at the end of the 2-part episode seems lost. That is, until Ian realized that the footage that he shot could be made into a movie.

As it turned out, the journey that Ian filmed turned out to be a win for him.

And such as our own lives.

We get so hung up in getting to a destination, goal, outcome and circumstance.

We get so wrapped up, stressed out and anxiety riddled over getting things to go our way.

Philippians 4:6-7 says this:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In the middle of the journey, it’s easy to get impatient. It’s easy to feel as though things are not moving as quickly as it should.

But, the believer in Christ is reminded in scripture to be anxious for nothing. The believer is also reminded that the anxiety is replaced with the “peace of God” which “surpasses all understanding” and will “guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

When the journey seems long, tumultuous or even just plain boring and tedious, my heart and mind is kept in Christ when I’m not filled with anxiety. When I am in prayer and when I’m thankful my perspective is placed into proper position in order for me to continue this wild and crazy journey called life.

Let’s Make Sacrifices

December 25, 2017

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Usually when I talk to my friend and mentor, Gerald, I share certain things I’ve learned from him here. So, here we go!

“The word of the day is ‘Sacrifice,'” he said.

Why? Because all too often we expect a major change with little results. We expect things to happen for us and to change for us without putting forth the effort or making the challenges that are necessary.

I listened intently to the examples Gerald made about sacrificing. He touched on the importance of sacrifice in Old Testament scripture as well as the daily sacrifices we make.

Thing is, we have to choose to make those sacrifices.

We take on the second job so we can make ends meet or save up for the vacation or for the next big project we have up our sleeve.

We stay up that extra hour after our normal bedtime to write or blog or draw that comic strip.

Sacrifice is doing something different TODAY so you can have a different TOMORROW.

Otherwise, everything stays the same.

Now, supposing that you’re unbelievably frustrated and tired and simply bitter and the idea of sacrificing and…dare I say it…sacrificing more, is a bit overwhelming.

I get it.

The conversation between Gerald and I finished with the encouragement to continue sacrificing.

Because the truth is this…you can’t quit before it is time.