The following article is a guest post by Tristine Fleming. She is a freelance writer and semi-frazzled stay at home mommy. She attended Columbia College of Chicago as a Fiction Writing major, and resides in Kenosha, Wisconsin with her husband, Jared, and their toddling little guy, Tavin. Her blog, NOTE TO SELF: Daily Reminders from God, has blessed and encouraged men and women across the globe, and is linked to international charity organization, Gospel for Asia.
But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:29)
I was bullied as a young girl; in a Catholic school, nonetheless. I was tormented for seven years. Pushed and shoved. Called names. Ousted at birthday parties (I don’t think I was EVER invited to one!). Called second-to-last in gym (someone else was much worse than I was, apparently).
My home life wasn’t much better. I was rejected by both of my parents. My father left us to start a new family, and my mother became obsessed with finding someone else to replace him. I fought all of my life to get them to “like” me, but even to this day, there’s nothing I can say or do that will change their minds about me.
While to me this seems like an inclusive pity party, I know I’m not alone. I know that many who are reading this come from divided families and/or have been bullied growing up. We were “different.” There was something about us that just didn’t “fit” in the world.
For a long time I hated being the misfit. And then I tried to fit in and eventually found my place in the wrong crowd: the other misfits.
My three year old son is a misfit in this mad world, too. He is genuinely polite and loving. While we recently had a mini-vacation at a nearby water park, he got his first taste of being bullied. As other kids pushed and shoved their way to the front of the line for the water slides, my lovely, thoughtful child said, “Excuse me,” “Thank you,” and “Please.” He smiled at strangers and said hello to many people. He got excited to see all the kids laughing and running around, but before the day was over, he had been pushed and shoved too many times and he was exhausted from being bullied. He no longer cared about the water slides and eventually just stood and watched the other kids have fun.
This was a hard lesson for my husband and I to watch him learn, because for us, we wanted to spank every nasty child in the joint, and you can be rest assured that we did our fair share of scolding unmonitored brats, but Tavin had to take it on the chin. He had to experience rejection at its finest. He doesn’t fit in. He’s good and pure hearted. He sincerely cares about other people’s feelings. He offers to help, and he loves to share. Instead of making a fuss about being pushed out of the way, he soon learned to just step aside and let the bully have his/her way.
I had to really contemplate the evils of the world that day and give my little guy some helpful advice after yet another child kicked him in the back to push him down the slide he was already reluctant to go down. Our gut response was to tell him to shove back, but then we returned to our Christian nature and settled on teaching him how to firmly, but politely, let others know they were crossing the line. “Next time that happens, you turn around and firmly say, ‘Stop! Please wait your turn,’” we instructed him. He seemed to like that suggestion, and fortunately he didn’t need to say it for the rest of the time we were in the pool (which wasn’t very long since we were all worn out by the hostile environment).
See, as Christians, we’re misfits. We don’t belong here. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). “But our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). We are different, and we are called to be different, and the bullies of the world hate people who are different.
Like Peter suggested (“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us,” 1 Peter 2:11-12), my husband and I are teaching our son that it’s better to be different than to duplicate the sin and ugliness of the world, and that being Godly will often bring about rejection. We can’t stop it. It is the way of the world…the world in which Christ has called us out of!
This is our temporary home. We are to be strangers here. We’re not here to belong or fit in. We are here to stand out, and many will hate us for that. But we will one day reap the rewards of being a misfit.
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