I was a bully. I just wanted you all to know that. My friends from my home church came to visit this past week, and they reminded me and told some of you (general RCF community) of my past as a bully to them.
But let’s backtrack first, earlier this week I was thinking about prayer techniques because I like to lead prayer during our community group on Wednesday. One theme of prayer that I had when I was in middle school was to PRAY BIG. My youth minister encouraged us to pray for God to work in big ways because if you don’t believe in God’s great power, how is He going to work in your life? This is in reference to Matthew 16: 13-17 where Jesus asks Peter who He is. While some people said that Jesus was a teacher or a prophet, Peter answered that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. If we don’t believe in who God is and all that He is, he will only be a prophet or teacher to us. However, if we believe that God is the Messiah, then Jesus says “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (vv.18-19). What I wanted to do for prayer this Wednesday was encourage for people to pray specifically to work in their lives. For me, this means asking God to work in a certain time span, not testing God, but letting God show his greatness. I decided to pray on Sunday to Wednesday that God would reveal to me the Gospel in the new way so that I could share a testimony of how God had worked before asking my community group members to engage with God.
I once learned that prayer is FOR US. God is going to do His will no matter if we pray to Him or not, but when we pray to Him, we see and are conscious of how He is working in our lives.
I WAS a bully, and I am ashamed of it. I did not treat my friends right from kindergarten to seventh grade. I sat on them, and threw leggos in their face. I said a lot of mean and hurtful things. I know that what I did was wrong and that maybe those actions and words have left permanent scars that I cannot take back. But God can. Being a bully doesn’t define me because God’s grace covers me and my sins. God answered my prayer and he made me experience the gospel once again.
A couple verses that stuck out to me this week are from 1 Corinthians 1:20-31. Here, Paul is talking about how God’s foolishness is wiser than our wisdom. He shows that God calls us from foolish and shameful backgrounds because that is when we boast in the Lord.
I can’t boast of my past, but I can boast in how God has redeemed me from my past as a bully. I have even looked back and reflected how He has done that and it is amazing. I stopped really bullying people in seventh grade when I went to a retreat with my youth group in the fall. I realized that I had put up with people in my life who had bullied me and put me down, which made me turn around and do the same to others. However, I realized why those people bullied me from the context of their lives, their family, the pressures they faced.
Another powerful testimony is how my younger brother and I used to bully my older brother who has Downs Syndrome and is half deaf. You can see his cutie face in my old profile picture on FB. When my young brother and I were young, we used to run away from my older brother because we thought he was a monster like little kids think of the boogie man or the monster in the closet. We would slam the door in his face and play without him. Oftentimes, he would sit at the closed door and cry, but those sounds of pain and crying just sounded like weird moaning and annoyance to us. We even treated him so badly that it gave permission to the other kids at church to treat him the same way.
It wasn’t until fifth grade when my mom sent me to a workshop held by the Children’s Hospital in Boston called “My sibling has Downs Syndrome,” that I realized for the first time that my older brother had feelings. This was one of the first real life experiences where I learned compassion, empathy and grace. The fact that my older brother and I are so close now and have so much love for each other shows that God’s grace can really cover a multitude of sins. The love God has put in my heart for my brother surpasses just loving him but all those who are neglected. This is one of the reasons that I feel so passionately about helping God bring justice to this world.
So I guess I just wrote a mini testimony. I hope it encouraged you or you learned new things about me. =D
P.S. Happy World Downs Syndrome Day!!
This is something that Faith, Lizzy and I were talking about this past Sunday. If I missed anything, please add on in the comments.
So, I disagreed with a lot of the sermon this past Sunday. While I think it is important to remember that there is a lot of suffering especially in terms of modern day slavery in this world, the way this was presented was pretty problematic.
First, I don’t know how you all felt about the video, but I feel really uncomfortable for several reasons. The video shows images that perpetuate the idea that people in “third world countries” are impoverished and are the only people in the world that need help. I appreciated that the video didn’t show JUST African children because these are the people who get exploited the most often; however, because there were Asian women and children in the video, it made me realize how disconcerting it is to see people who look like you portrayed in this way.
Also, I really disagreed with the way that the discourse in the sermon was implicitly the U.S. versus the world. We are part of the world, and we are no better than the rest of the world. I think at one point I heard a phrase along the lines of “America is much better off than the world so we need to help other.” First of all, there are so many modern day slaves in the United States. In addition, the American justice system is corrupt when you look at the situation in Philadelphia. There are around 25-30 public schools closing at the end of this year in Philly while there are 5 PRISONS being built. The state is basically herding these children into prisons because they cannot provide such a basic human right of education. We are not perfect.
The part where I became even more angry was when I was told that these people in Asia and Africa are “victims, hopeless, voiceless.” No, no no no no NOOO.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLVY5jBnD-E –> This video explains why this is wrong.
Basically, when you portray someone as hopeless and voiceless, though you have your good intentions, you dehumanize her or him. You strip people of their humanity and their ability to speak and voice their opinions.
I also disagree that putting my name on a postcard can really create lasting change. That may be pessimistic of me to say, but slacktivism is really there to make us feel better.
Here http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2012/04/healthy-short-term-missions-do-it-like.html is just a little perspective on short term missions. I believe that God is greater than our sins, so I believe that God can still work during short term missions. BUT I think that it could definitely be done better and more thoughtfully.
Here is where I get confused personally. I struggle so much with trying to combine my identity as a Christian and my identity as a social justice activist. It seems like these would go well together, but for me, somehow it hasn’t meshed exactly. I know that much of why I feel so strongly about justice comes from God, and it is his calling on my life. However, I used to use the verse from the sermon (Micah 6:8) to justify why I did Invisible Children. If you don’t know, I went through this huge journey where God called me to give up Invisible Children. Through this experience, I learned personally how the organization was unhealthy for me because I put it before God, and then He showed me academically how problematic this organization is.
Am I unable to reconcile my two passions because of the way the church portrays and calls us to serve and do justice? It seems that we come from Jesus’s perspective like we can be the saviors, but really we can’t. God can save us, we can’t save anyone. He’s called us to love one another humbly and thoughtfully.
What’s your opinion?
I love this idea and this blog already, but one thing I really want to emphasize is our intention with this blog. I don’t want to write on this blog in order for it to just be read, digested, and absorbed.
This place should be the gateway to conversations and prayer. Let’s actually follow up with each other in person and not just keep the conversation online. I want us to reach out to one another in love, in person, and in prayer.
❤ Esther C