Confessions of a Middle School Bully.
I had a friend in high school named Molly who was so exuberant and so joyful and so alive, she'd almost make your eyes hurt. I met her right after I started walking with Jesus and she embraced me physically (she was a hugger) and emotionally in a way that literally changed my life. If I close my eyes for even a second, I can see a picture of her coming at me - mouth wide open in a smile, hands outstretched ready to squeeze me and say something encouraging.
And listen, I was a messy new Christian. I came with secret addictions and lifestyle habits I was just figuring out were wrong. I was prideful and loud and craved attention in a not-so-cute kind of way. I masked pain with humor, often at other people's expense, and I was still pretty needy for male attention - I'd just transferred my neediness to Christian boys. So I was a gem of a friend, basically. A real gift. But she loved me furiously anyhow.
One night during our junior year, we were reminiscing on our yesteryears (you know, middle school) and suddenly - lots of repressed memories started making their way back the forefront of my mind. I realized why Molly was so familiar to me and why I felt like I'd always known her. I HAD known her for years. Just not as a friend, but as her bully.
She was gracious and so merciful as I made the connections that were laying beneath the surface of my mind - acknowledging that she remembered what had happened, but reassuring me she knew that's not who I was now.
I had straight up bullied her in middle school. This sweet friend of mine. In the gym locker room. Just like a Disney movie. My target of choice with Molly was always the same. I didn't make fun of her personality or her clothes or her body or her friends - I zeroed in on her hair. I was OBSESSED with her hair. She wore the same ponytail every day and every day I would taunt her and mess with her and tell her to TAKE OUT THE PONYTAIL. I'm super ashamed to say once or twice I even put my hands on her, physically pulling out her ponytail holder and exposing her beautiful luscious locks.
I was a mean little tweenager, but y'all - at the heart of it, I wanted good for her. I was obsessed with hair during that season and I'd spend hours alone in the rec-room of our house trying new hairstyles on myself. I believed that the portals to identity and worth lay in my curling iron, my round brush, and my hot rollers. And I knew that Molly had great hair, I just wanted her to let it down so stinking bad.
I honestly haven't thought back to that memory about pulling her ponytail out in over a decade - until this week. I was sitting at a park with a friend, watching our kids play, trying to describe how my heart felt as we launched Wild and Free book into the world. And the only way I could unpack what was in my heart was by telling her that story.
I feel like I'm looking at world of women who have the most beautiful hair in the world and they all have it stuffed in a stiff ponytail. Except this time - it is their actual identities - it's their actual worth that they're sitting on, completely and utterly unaware of how good they have it.
I know women who know the actual answer to all of life's questions. I know women who know the answer to eternity. I know women who know the secrets of why we're all here. I know women who know about hope and faith and love and purpose and joy and I know women who hold the keys to life and death. But so many of these women don't want to ruffle feathers or seem religious or bother people.
I know women who have gifts - gifts from GOD that are so rich, so eternity shifting, so life giving, and yet they're scared to acknowledge them, much less use them. I know women who have vibrant, crazy, freedom giving testimonies - but they're terrified to to share them and be seen in an unfavorable light.
I know women who have access to freedom, healing, and resurrection power - but they believe that they're too much or not enough to utilize it. Or worse yet - they turn up their noses at the passionate women and men around them who are running after Jesus, calling THEM too much and not enough and missing out on God's great purposes for their lives.
@@I know women who can change the world, but they're paralyzed with fear and they've bought lies about who they are.@@
I know those women intimately because I am them. All at once. I wrote the book and I still believe the lies, discount myself, and fail to access all the grace and goodness that my good, good Father offers me on a daily basis.
And so basically - I want to pull all our ponytails out. I want to shove this book in our faces and I want us to sit in circles reading the Bible and praying and holding hands and getting weird until we believe it. But I won't - because I learned my lesson that pulling out someone's ponytail is NOT THE WAY.
So I will sit over here and quietly pray. Or loudly pray. And I've started reading the book myself. And I've joined a book club so I can process it for real with my people. And I'm asking God to change the story and shake up our generation. I'm asking Him to help us take Him at His Word when He says: He loves us, He's redeemed us, He's called us good, and He's given us purposes and plans and ministry in His Kingdom.
And I'm asking if you'll join me? Quietly (or loudly) praying. Reading for yourself and looking full on at our God and asking Him to change the story. @@Will you join me in asking Him to make us into a generation that takes Him at His Word? @@