Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I have to tell you something…

…you may not believe it…

…it may make you think less of me…

…but as a child…

…I was picked on…

…a lot.

I grew up in a small town area of southeastern Ohio.  I was a very sensitive child, I cried easily, I had red hair (there seemed to be less of us back then), and somehow in the mix of all of the sensitivity…I had a temper.  It was a kind of you hurt my feelings, I cried, and then I wanted to knock you out combo.  Due to my sensitivity some of the normal games children play would set off an emotional outburst that usually ended in the other kids looking at me in a way that said, “What in the world is wrong with THAT guy?”  This, of course, exacerbated the issues I had and further crushed my fragile confidence and ego.

I am so thankful I am not quite as fragile now.  

It often had to do with the intentions of the person playing the game, if they wanted to make me the butt end of the joke.  That was something I never, ever enjoyed.  A simple “high five, up high, down low, you’re too slow” with an intent to get me riled up would certainly do the trick.  

Did I mention I was fragile?

I felt destroyed and dismantled often due to my fragility and other children (who really did nothing wrong) being children.  I felt this way because I felt as though everyone was out to get me (they weren’t), I was an easy target (I was), and I would never be on the other end of the joke.  Whenever someone would walk up to me and initially act kind, I was often very skeptical. 

 That may be the source of my cynicism now, something to ponder at a later time.  

I was skeptical because I seldom felt that anyone was genuine and authentic in their desire to be my friend.

I have recently begun to wonder if there is a similarity with how I felt in my childhood years to how others feel about unauthentic Christians.  If all, of just about all, they experience is someone talking a good game only to feel set up as a self righteous person points a finger and expose their weakness, how would they ever grow to trust people who call themselves Christians?  How would they ever grow to trust Christ?  How often do we pull the “down low” and when they begin to open up, “too slow” and lose interest or take on the “I don’t understand why they just don’t get it?” and walk away from a life that God cares deeply about and wants to use us to reach them?


There were numerous times I just wanted someone to come over and stop the whole situation (even though the escalation was often my fault) and calm me down.  It didn’t happen often.  I wonder how many times those who do not know Christ want the escalating situation they are in to stop (even if it is their fault).  Meanwhile we, as Christians, sit back as spectators because we don’t want to get involved or worse yet, take on a pious or self righteous attitude because the person in the terrible situation made a bad decision and thank God we don’t do foolish things like that.  I guess they’ll have to figure it out themselves.

I feel like I could go on and on…the point is this…

I am so thankful that God so loved me (and all of us) that He didn’t sit by and do nothing (even though He had the right to) when I was stuck in my mess.  He intervened.  I believe we are called to do the same.  I believe we are to strive be genuine and authentic as Christ was when He walked this earth and loved those who were fragile and weak.  He has called us to do the same, and sent His Spirit to empower us to do so.  Do we believe it?  What are we going to do about it?


Tom Scott said...

Periodically, I read your posts (and other people's posts) as a way of doing my "morning devotions". I typically don't have time to write anything, but today is different.

Like you, I grew up being picked on. As a child I was effeminate, artsy, musical, and liked to play with girls instead of boys. I was afraid of being beat up, or worse, being labeled a sissy.

I discovered something about growing up... Eventually we develop two distinct personalities. We have our "pubilc" self in which we perform a role that others will accept. We also have a "real" self, where we can let our guard down, show our weaknesses, and feel comfortable being who we really are.

Entering adulthood I continued to to maintain a clear distance from people, only showing my "public" self for fear that others could harm me if they really knew me. Even though I was raised in a fundementally strong Christian environment, I kept a clear distance from God too. I thought, if God really knew me, He would not love me.

I no longer believe that Christians don't care. There have been times in my adult life that I shared my "real" self with the public, and was rewarded with love and understanding from many people. So I know in my heart that people DO love. But the battle continues... Even though I know that Christians have the capability of providing genuine love and acceptance, I continually struggle to trust them.

As the years go by I've become friends with many people, but only a few are close friends. My wife being one of them. I've come to realize that your story (and mine) is not unusual. All people grow up having similar sensitivities. I know you know that. Maybe that's why God called you into ministry. You knew that others have similar experiences. God uses you because you're the kind of person who can reach into another's real self, to show them love, understanding, a shoulder to cry on, and ultimately lead them to our Healer.

Debbie Smeiles said...

Well said, both Adam and Tom. I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing these painful stories. I'm sure most of us have experienced similar times of rejection and humiliation, which makes our experience with a loving, accepting Father & Savior all the more precious. What I take from this is what you both suggest; we have the ability and responsibility to love others with the authentic love of Christ. I have found it best to love people without reservation and let the Spirit speak to them in His timing about whatever sin issues they may have.