Her hand shielded the side of her mouth as she whispered to my friends. Their eyes widened as they stole glances my way. Then they all looked at me and laughed. At lunch time, they no longer wanted to sit with me or talk to me, and I was too insecure to stand up for myself.
When I started out in Junior High, I had many friends, but one spiteful remark stole them away. I will never forget the girl’s name. I still visualize her freckled hand cupping her mouth, her reddish-blond head and lanky frame leaning towards attentive listeners. I still don’t know what she said, but I do know my life drastically changed. My friends disappeared, my confidence plummeted, and I often traveled solo through the rest of Junior High and High School.
Bullying, especially as a child, hurts a deep part of our souls and can change our entire perspective on life. Whether from a peer, teacher, parent, or other family members, cutting remarks and rejection come back to haunt us in our adult lives. They can keep us from believing in our God-given potential if we let them.
We may cringe in fear of more hurt and rejection. Hesitate to stretch ourselves. And it’s especially when we do step out of our comfort zone and take a risk to do something God calls us to do, those past voices blast us until we retreat. Our hearts again close in a tight bud instead of opening up in full bloom so others can drink in the beautiful gifts God has given us.
But remember how God opened a way through the Red Sea for the Israelites? The Egyptians were hot on their heels and mountains blocked either side of them. And they had no way to cross the sea in front of them. Then miraculously, God opened up the sea and they could move forward. They were not devoured by their enemies or drowned by the deep waters, because God had it all under His control.
That powerful God is still the same today. He can open a way for us to advance in using the gifts He has given us. He can swallow up and destroy all those negative voices of the past.
“What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27 NIV)
“In Your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” (Psalm 18:29 NLT)
Negative voices do not have to define us. Through God, each of us can live out our full potential. He has given each of us a special purpose on this earth, and He waits to level the mountains for us as we step out into the unknown. “You are not here by accident. God has summoned you here. He has something in your heart that He is shaping that you are in the process of birthing. Don’t shrink back. The world needs what you have to bring to the table. Step up. We are counting on you. There is more at stake than you could possibly imagine.” (Michael Hyatt at a “She Speaks” conference)