Updated: Sep 10, 2020
This week on Facebook, I saw the yearbook portrait of a boy from my high school class. He died very suddenly from a brain aneurysm. The whole school was shocked. How could such a thing happen to someone so young?
I have had so many feelings stirred up from seeing that picture, but not for the reasons you might think. You see, that boy was my high school bully.
I was an easy target. I was shy, sensitive, and had transferred from a Christian school. This boy was the leader of a group that tormented me relentlessly. They turned biology class into a daily nightmare that I longed to ditch. The teacher couldn’t control them, so they pretty much had free reign in the class. And I was their favorite mark.
When this boy died, I felt…relief. As horrible as that sounds, it’s the truth.
Seeing his face again has made me very contemplative. I am sad that I couldn’t really grieve when he died, and I am heartbroken that he wasn’t able to grow into the good man I know he could have been. But I have also realized this week…REALLY realized…the power of our words.
All these years later, I still remember how every childhood bully (and there were many) made me feel. I can forgive, but I can never forget. I wish I could. But maybe that’s not the point.
If our past can teach us something, then maybe it wasn’t in vain. So what does that mean for me? How might I be kinder to others? And how have MY words affected those in my life path? Heavy stuff to ponder.
I don’t want to use the pain and fear of the past as an excuse to hurt people in my present. Anger isn’t bad, it’s most often a sign that your boundaries have been violated. But if you don’t deal with your feelings, anger can become your master. Just ask Anakin Skywalker about that.
I know that despite the best intentions, I have hurt people. I have lost relationships over things said in anger. Sometimes those rifts can be repaired, and sometimes they can’t. But either way, I can NEVER take back what I said. That is a heavy realization. The power of our words are life or death. I choose to speak life to people. I pray that I am able to do so.