By Latrice Williams
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For many years, I would proudly admit I was “the victim” of bullying. And I felt like I had the right to do so. Considering everything I endured in middle school, there was no shame in my heart as I recalled the trauma I endured. But in doing so, I also reinforced the whole “sweet revenge” phrase society tells us we deserve to administer upon our enemies.
Middle school can be tremendously difficult. For a gal like me, I was only concerned about wearing the latest fashions, dating the most popular guy in the school and making the cheerleading team. Sixth grade was pretty normal. But things changed fairly quickly. I battled through a ton of different emotions...everything from wanting to be popular, to being told I was too ugly to be on the cheerleading team. Ouch!
In seventh grade, I somehow became a target. I didn’t have long flowing hair, beautiful skin or a cool pair of Nike tennis shoes. I didn’t grow up poor. My parents were - and still are - hard-working middle-class Americans. They put their money into the things they thought were important. So, while I never went to school hungry, I certainly wasn’t decked out in the latest name brands. This certainly drew some attention...and none of it was positive. Yet I continued to walk in love with my enemies, mainly due to the fact that I was too afraid to stick up for myself.
But bottled up emotions in a 13-year old typically doesn’t end well. Fast forward to eighth grade and I’d had enough. In the middle of my final semester, my teacher announced she’d be out for a while. Typically, that means when the cats away the mice will play. I remember a young lady who shall remain nameless that had been a thorn in my side for far too long. We got into a disagreement in class and that was it for me. The fight is pretty fuzzy now, but I do remember hitting her first. I’d had enough. And honestly in that moment, it felt great. I felt liberated. I’d shown her and everyone else that I was not going to be the punching bag anymore. I was the hammer and she was the nail...but not in the eyes of the administration.
Not only was I suspended for three days, I was exempt from coming on campus the last week of school to participate in all the wonderful festivities leading up to graduation. You know…the ones where you do nothing but run around and play with your friends all day? And I would also go on to miss my graduation ceremony as well. Why you ask? It was already predetermined by the administration that any students suspended during that particular semester would be excluded from participating in the graduation ceremony. But surely miss goodie two shoes (that would be me), wouldn’t be punished due to my squeaky-clean record...or so I thought.
All this despite my mom’s constant communication with the school regarding me being bullied. My mom was heavily involved and as a grown adult now, I can’t thank her enough. If you’re a parent, be relentless in your pursuit for change, but be careful in your approach. My mom was always respectful, but continuously demanded change so I could learn in a positive environment.
Above all else, what hurt the most was how I was treated by the administration. I suddenly went from having no blemishes in my file to being given the cold shoulder. I felt as though they let me down. The fight only led to more emotional torment. Nothing was ever resolved. Had I taken the fight before the Lord, I believe the outcome would have been different.
All-in-all, as a child of God you have to walk in love no matter what. Although it can be incredibly painstaking, it’s what God has called us to do. Keep in mind, I reacted first. I am not at all instructing anyone to be a victim of violence. Yes, in certain situations you have a right to defend yourself. But when you’re feeling overwhelmed, lay your problem at the altar. Maybe as a young teenager I didn’t know how to do that and that is why I am encouraging you youngsters to call on the name of the Lord when you are in an emotional fight before you get into a physical fight.