I don't know why God has put this on my heart but lately I can't get a girl from elementary school out of my head. Her name was Melissa Endel and she had a younger brother named Jason. Kids at school tormented both of them relentlessly! I don't know why, I don't remember any specific defining moment, I don't remember who started it, where, or why. I do remember, so clearly, Melissa's face all red and puffy from crying after kids made fun of her for being different.
About five or six years ago, my grandaddy was in the hospital and I went to see him. As I was walking down the hall I caught a glimpse of Melissa, out of the corner of my eye, laying in a hospital bed. I stopped right there and said a prayer for her, then dismissed it. It's plagued me for a long time.
I don't know anything about Melissa, from back then or from now, but she has been on my heart for some reason and I can't dismiss it. I can't help but think that, all those years ago, when the kids were tormenting Melissa I should have stood up for her. I clearly remember that I NEVER participated, and I remember my heart hurting for her when I would see the kids make fun of her but I didn't want to get involved. I was too scared that they'd turn on me too.
I don't know what the proper answer was for back then, but I can't help but think that my second grade teacher should be ashamed of herself for not stopping it. She was the adult, and she dismissed it too.
A few years ago I saw a group of girlfriends turn on another friend because she was "different" and, she is! This woman marches to her own beat, but she's got a great heart. She may not be what you hope your daughters grow up to be like, but you always hope they love as freely as she does. A woman who had been a close friend of hers called me and said that she'd just "stayed out of it" and I told her that by staying out of it, you silently submit to it, and that's what I did with Melissa. This woman took that to heart and stood by her friend! She did everything I wish I'd done-back then!
I never made fun of Melissa, I just stayed out of it. I saw her hurt and I never did anything to stop it. By staying out of it, I allowed it to happen. I don't know if I could have stopped it, at seven years old, but Melissa wouldn't have had to be so alone and that can make a huge difference.
As I raise my daughters, I don't know how I would handle that situation if it arises in their lives. I want to think I'll tell them to stand up for the victim! Be the voice! I PRAY that I tell them that, but in all honesty I know I will be afraid that the tormentors will turn on my baby! I don't want to see any child hurt, but I REALLY don't want to see my child hurt. I'm sure that reveals far more inner selfishness than I'd like, but it's true.
I don't know why God has put this on my heart but maybe I'll remember to stand up for what's right, in the future, whether it's popular opinion or not. You can't always stop someone from being hurt but you can make it hurt less by being a friend.