Several months ago I began a post about bullying, but after I read through it, I stopped short. My words sounded very bitter. Could I still be bitter about something that happened twenty-five years ago? I wouldn’t have thought so, but reading my words, it was clear that I was. Funny how writing about something helped show me my own bitterness that I didn’t know was there.
It was my freshman year at a boarding high school, and let me just say there was a lot of bullying by the upper classmen that year. What I experienced seems very minor compared to the stories of some of the others.
We all had to work twenty hours each week. My first year I got kitchen duty. I actually loved my job in the kitchen except for one hour each morning, when I was placed with four senior girls. The cook seemed to think that the group was very capable because he would leave us a list of things to finish during the hour and then come back to check on us just before it was time for us to go to the next class.
The four girls found great joy in making things miserable for me. They would make fun of me: my clothes, my hair, my face, my weight (about 90 pounds), my speech–anything they could think of. Each morning they would grab the list, read the jobs, and give me the least favorable one. I really didn’t care about that part. I tried to work hard and keep to myself, not showing I was insulted even when I was, and laughing when they made fun of me. I just did my best to endure it and never told anyone. I thought the bullying would just get worse if I tried to do anything about it.
At times the girls would be talking and telling stories and lose track of the time, at least that’s how it seemed to me. The cook would show up and be furious that things weren’t done. They always blamed it on me. They would tell him that I refused to help or something like that. We received grades on our report cards for work just like for our academic subjects, and that year was the only one in which I didn’t get good marks.
Sometimes the girls would lock me in the big walk-in freezer. I didn’t really think they would leave me in there, but I am a bit claustrophobic, so I always dreaded when they would send me to get things. One girl was especially mean and would do things like lift up my skirt on the stairs when she was behind me.
Two of the girls were just mean–to everyone and all the time. I was afraid of them. The other two were otherwise nice girls, and if they saw me when the mean girls were not present, they were always civil. You know, it was the nicer girls I resented the most. I knew that they knew better. They came from good families and were raised right, yet when they were with the other two, they were just as mean. In my mind they weren’t just mean, they were hypocrites. I really had the most difficult time forgiving them.
After I read the bitter words that I had originally written, I did some reflecting. I had to thank God for allowing this experience in my life because by His grace this changed me. I purposed in my heart through those times to never treat anyone like that. I was determined that when I was a senior I would treat the younger kids with kindness and respect, and you know what? I did. Had I not gone through this, I may have thought the minor torturing of the younger kids was just fun and games. I may have done the same things as the two girls who would just go along with the meanness of others. Instead, I knew what it was like, and I really became a champion of the underdog. I still am today! So I forgave those girls in my heart, and I appreciate God showing me how they meant it for evil in my life, but God used it for good!