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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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Trusting God!

November 5, 2018

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My wife and I had a candid conversation about trusting God with our hearts. We talked about my career path and her career path … mostly mine.

For example, I love the idea of pursuing a Ph.D. and I may do that sooner than I think. But, I also like the idea of earning more training in the media realm, particularly Journalism and Creative Writing and even Graphic Design (Art, Illustration).

When my wife Rachel and I attended a nearby college preview day to see what they had to offer, I was really excited by what I learned. Then came the questions … does this make sense, will this work, and so forth.

I’m learning not to cringe if I get excited over various topics or ideas that light up my heart. Where do we learn that “cringe” feeling over things that light us up, the things that make our heart soar?

My guess is shame. That among other issues of course. We feel like we can’t have certain things in life because we are either not worthy of it and God certainly wouldn’t want us to have certain things … or we lack believe that God is a giver of good gifts.

Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Theirs just some things that God will not let me have … at least not yet. And it is not because God is cruel, unloving and unfair. Far from it! God loves me and loves you, and often times I see that love in play when He withholds certain things from me that are not for me and gives me the things that He desires to give me out of his abundance and out of his love for me. This is actively God’s Grace and God’s Mercy. His Grace and Mercy means way more to me than material things.

Psalm 84:11 (NKJV)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

My wife spoke this point to me: “trust God with your heart!”

Note, not “trust your heart,” or “follow your heart.” We both knew that could lead to some very interesting, treacherous places.

So, in the midst of all of the questions I have about what’s next, I have learned to just relax and see the Lord in the midst of it all. We want to be sure not to lean on our own understanding of the issues of life, but to reach out to and acknowledge the Lord in our life … the Lord of our life … trusting God and Christ Jesus as we go forward.

 

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Usually when people ask me what I do, I answer with a generic “I work at XYZ” or “I do XYZ.”

But, my background is way more extensive than this.

I’m a writer. I’m an artist. I’m a licensed and ordained minister.

I also have a background in Broadcast Journalism and have spent a lot of time in videography and photography.

As my interests and passions changed, I learned to give more simple answers to what I do versus who I am. I’ll never forget the time I mentioned what I did when someone asked me only to berate me for having such an extensive line of things to mention from my previous career experiences.

Haters gonna hate, right?

So, over the years, I have given my answer a 3 word response as far my background:  Author, Minister and Cartoonist.

Boom! Done!

I say “author” because I’ve been published and am publishing. But, I suppose the more accurate title would be “storyteller.” In fact, storytelling is something that has fit my overall experiences as a Journalist as well as a writer and media guy.

And, between you and me, the term “storyteller” is something that the Lord kept bringing up to me over and over again to this day.

While all of this is well and good, I’m actually desiring to make a point here.

Sometimes we get everything in our lives confused as it relates to what we do and who we are. While yes, you are a writer, a cook, a minister, a doctor, a lawyer, a construction worker or whatever.

But that’s just right now!

You’re not your job!

Your job or career is what you DO right now! That could change at anytime!

And for some people, that is horrifying! For others, it is a welcome opportunity to embrace and experience the other many activities that you might not have known you’re good at.

This is a scary reality for many.

A lot of people base their whole lives on a job or a way of life and are left devastated because they have centered their whole identity around said career choice.

So many people try to chase after a career or a pathway to success but forget that they should focus on what kind of person they should become or are becoming.

My personal faith in God and my relationship with Christ keeps all of this in perspective for me.

I’m first, a Christian, before anything else. I’m a follower of Christ before I’m a doctor so-and-so or reverend whomever or lead whatever. From that relationship, my identity is shaped. And, I learn of my greatest strengths and my greatest weaknesses from that.

What I do is what I do today. It could change. In fact, I anticipate their to be some change.  And it is okay!

Responsibility

March 22, 2017

reonsobilityThis particular message has been in me for several, several days!

“You are responsible for you…no one else…you!”

No one owes you and me anything! Period!

You HAVE to work for it. You HAVE to trust and believe that you have been created and called into something bigger than you…that you are here for a purpose that’s larger.

I believe…again, I personally…that God has called me into something so much larger than myself.

As a Christian, I am responsible for how I behave in front of people and for the message of the Gospel to be shared.

As a writer, I’m responsible for telling a story.

As an artist, I’m responsible for conveying a message that people can grasp and understand!

As a man, I’m responsible for taking care of business and operating in love for my significant other and for my fellow man. Even then, that’s not ALL the responsibilities I have as just a man!

We ALL have responsibilities!

But, there are many who choose to not take on the burdens of living and growing up. There are many who choose to not take responsibility for their actions.

It’s MUCH easier to blame everyone else…to make excuses….to declare that somehow you are being held back and nothing good can happen for you and to you.

But, it’s harder to take responsibility.

It’s a challenge to take responsibility and own up to your mistakes…the consequences seem to be higher the more you take on responsibility.

But, sooner or later, if you really, really want more out of life, you have to take on responsibilities and carry the weight of that experience.

The good news is you don’t have to carry that weight alone!