“Sonya, you probably don’t remember me (I sort of hope you don’t) but you and I went to the same church for several years.
I couldn’t stand you.
You were always smiling and singing. You were loud. I remember thinking, “What is this girls problem? Nobody is that “into” Jesus. It has to be fake!”
You would sing and people would be so moved and I’d be like, “Can’t you see what a fake she is?” You always seemed to laugh at everything and couldn’t take anything seriously. You were obnoxious and you didn’t have any respect for how you were supposed to act in church.
So what if you could sing? That’s all you had. Okay, you could sing decent but you weren’t the only one with talent. I had talent too. Only, I would get passed over because they would pick you to do all the good songs.
My friends and I would talk about how obnoxious you were and how humiliating it was that you didn’t understand how pathetic you were. I remember one time at one of the Christmas pageants, we were laughing at you dancing around up there trying to teach the others like you were a broadway choreographer or something. One of my friends actually said something to you about you being too fat and why you weren’t ashamed to be out in front of everyone with the way you looked. When you questioned her, she said, “Well, look at you? Have you not seen yourself in a mirror?” I saw the sadness in your eyes and I might have felt bad for a second, but my desire to hurt you was more important to me. Then you smiled and said, “Do you praise the name of Jesus with that mouth, too? If you do, how sad for Him. How sad for you! If I’m disgusting enough for Jesus to look at, well I’ll take my chances with the humans.” Then you walked away.
And even then…you still smiled and continued on with that same confidence as always. I remember feeling angry because no matter what happened to you or was said to you, it never broke you. You had nothing to feel confident about. You were nothing special. I saw a chip in your armor and that drove me to continue to try to knock you off your pedestal. Knowing that you could be hurt, became a game to me and to my friends – all in the name of setting you on the path to humility and true christian living.
I couldn’t understand where that confidence came from. I had a godly husband, wonderful kids and you were an embarrassment to the church and to God. I was a leader, and respected by many in the church. I taught a bible study. You were nothing. And still you continued to get opportunity after opportunity.
You were the entertainment factor with no substance.
I remember seeing your husband and feeling sorry for him having to be married to you. I was a lady. You had no clue what that was. You were fun but life isn’t all about fun and games. You weren’t that great so why didn’t you care that you weren’t great? I always wondered why you were okay with yourself. I never felt okay with myself.
No matter what I said behind your back or to your face, you wouldn’t break. When the pastor left the church, our family left, too. I was happy to go. Good riddance as far as I was concerned. I lost track of you and I couldn’t care less.
Fast forward to now. I’m still married and my kids are almost all grown. We have a good life. We’re currently serving in a church and we teach an adult Sunday school class. One of the couples starts to tell us about some marriage issues that they’ve been working on. They tell us about a ministry and this woman who sings and shares her story of being sold for sex. This couple is telling us some of the things that they’ve learned because of this ministry. The class is really moved by their confession and so my husband asks them to pull up the website.
As the video begins, I hear your voice and see you on the screen sharing your story and I am shocked. I can feel the blood draining from my face. We listen to the whole thing. I am sick. I knew that you had had a rough childhood but I never knew your story. I’m overcome with shame.
There you are AGAIN! Smiling and confidently sharing what Jesus has done in your life and then sharing how He can change OUR lives. The other couples in our class are obviously moved and some are crying. They begin to share some of their struggles and I have to excuse myself before I lose it. I go to the restroom and lock myself in a stall and bawl my eyes out. I am so ashamed of myself that it takes me days to feel like I can share it with my husband.
I have watched every video and read all your blogs. What a powerful testimony you have and what courage it takes for you to share that story over and over again.
I had no desire to get to know you. I thought I was better than you. I was a lady. You were not. I was a true christian. You had no idea what that meant. Or so I thought. I am so ashamed. I had the audacity to question your Christianity when I was acting like Satan himself! I was the farthest thing from what a Christian is supposed to be, Sonya, and I need to beg your forgiveness.
I was jealous. I hated you. I acted ugly and I tried to hurt you. I tried to destroy your reputation and I wanted you to feel less than me. I never saw you be mean to anyone. You were fun and you smiled because you had been forgiven and you understood that you were finally loved. And what did I do? I tried to make you feel like you weren’t loved or accepted. Please forgive me for everything I ever did or said about you. I was in sin.
The worst kind of sin is to try to take away what God has already freely given.
I cared more about what others thought of me. You never cared about that. Your confidence was not in yourself, it was in who Jesus was to you and in you. I was too caught up in my sin to see that. I struggle with needing mans approval. I felt unworthy or not good enough. I never got that from my parents and it has left me feeling like I need to get approval anywhere that I can get it. You were an easy target because you never fought back. It made me feel better to belittle you.
The truth is when you sing a song, something happens in the room. No one can deny this. It’s true. You aren’t singing for the people, you’re singing to your Savior…I can see it now. You had that smile and it was infectious. You were sharing the joy that Jesus has given you. You couldn’t help it. Your confidence was because of your relationship with Jesus. That’s where it came from and that’s where it comes from today.
I didn’t have that kind of relationship. You did. You made people feel good and you gave them permission to express their joy in the Lord. I didn’t have that. You loved people even when you had more of a reason to not love people because of what they did to you. You weren’t thinking you were better.
On the contrary, you felt lower than anyone, but you KNEW that Jesus loved you. You knew it and NO ONE could take that away from you.
I tried to take that away from you, and to me, that is the worst thing a person who “claims to know and love Jesus” can do to another human being. I was no better then your mother who hurt you or the men that tortured you. I tortured you on purpose. All because I was JEALOUS. All because I couldn’t stand who I was and didn’t want anyone that I thought was less than me to feel good about themselves. I was a bully – a Christian bully.
I pray that you will forgive me. I know it means nothing in the scheme of things. But please know that I am sorry. I pray that I will never again hurt someone else because of jealousy. I also pray that this note finds you well and still singing, still smiling, still confident in who you are and how much you are loved by Jesus.”
I have NEVER received a note like this.
And I’ve received some doozies. Right? Ha! Ha! I do remember this person. I do remember how she made me feel and I do remember how her group of friends were not nice. I also remember how the Lord protected me from most of it. How Jesus gave me peace and joy and encouragement when I was being attacked.
Bullying is not just a kid thing. It’s a HUMAN thing because…
Hurting people hurt people.
There are many of you that have been bullied in your life. Oh, sure it hurt me. But…no matter what they said, I had God’s word to compare it to. God has never said hurtful things to me. He’ll convict me of sin, sure. But He doesn’t say mean or ugly things.
A person who follows Jesus should NEVER say hurtful things or call a person names EVER!
But I want to jump to the TRUTH here.
I WAS loud. I WAS always smiling. I WAS always singing. It’s how I expressed my emotions. I WAS always trying to make people laugh. I pushed towards the silly things in life because I needed to laugh. I didn’t understand RELIGION. True. That’s because all I had was a RELATIONSHIP with JESUS. No, I didn’t know how to act in church other then to be nice, serve and encourage others. I didn’t even know that I was confident. I didn’t TRY to be confident. I was who I was because Jesus loved me and that gave me confidence to be worthy to be in the world like everybody else. I wasn’t better than ANYONE. But I wasn’t worse, either.
Why do I share this story with you?
Because you must not let what man says be your truth. Jesus is the truth. What He says is the truth.
Do NOT hurt anyone. Hurting someone isn’t loving them. As Christians, we are to LOVE.
When you do hurt someone, go to them and make it right and ask them to forgive you.
Jesus knew all about being bullied. He was innocent and people hurt him. We ALL hurt him with our sin.
We are ALL BULLIES!!! Do you get that?
What God is doing with this story…HIS STORY – is amazing! ALL glory and honor and power and salvation goes to JESUS CHRIST. Period.
I still smile. I still sing. I’m still loud. I still try to make people feel good. I’m still silly and don’t take things too seriously. AND…I’m still not religious – at all. I don’t try to be but I’m still confident. Why? Because I know that Jesus loves ME.
God can do ANYTHING. Even change the heart of a CHRISTIAN BULLY.