I was not popular in high school. I wasn’t UNpopular but I certainly wasn’t popular. My graduating high school class had 535 people in it. I was a number. Not particularly known one way or the other. The first year was particularly difficult for me. First, I was a girl in high school which isn’t an easy feat regardless of your station. Then it was a brand new school and I didn’t know anyone. I was going through an awkward phase (I have pictures to prove it). And my parents were recently divorced, and my brother and I lived with my newly working mom in, well, lower lower middle class. It was a challenging time. One I’ve never written about and one I don’t plan to write about for a while. But I wanted to provide a bit of background so you could appreciate how a particular statement resonated with me last night.
As you may know from a previous blog entry, I have a couple of television guilty pleasures. And I do mean guilty. They are not intellectually stimulating or growth inspiring to my faith. They are guilty pleasures. Ones I have no mind to abdicate at this time. Surely, eventually, they’ll die a television death, and then they’ll be gone and I won’t replace them. On a recent episode of one show, a girl was on a date with a boy who liked her very much. He was sharing how, even though he is very smart and well-educated NOW, he didn’t do particularly well in high school because he was unpopular. As he wisely stated, social standing can play out academically. They went on talking about other topics and he said something so entirely funny and smart and romantic. She took his hands, and looked him straight in the eyes, and said, “You are like no other guy I know. The people who said you were unpopular, whoever made you feel unpopular when you were younger, they’re stupid.”
Did you hear that? Whoever made a negative commentary about who you are and your worth and your value and what a treasure you are, they are stupid. They don’t know what they’re talking about. You are precious and wonderful and should be the most popular person in the whole world. I have to tell you, the look in his eyes when she uttered those words made me cry. It almost made him cry. It’s like she took years of this pain, this worthless label he’d worn as a brand, and she patched over it with worth. The brand won’t ever be gone, but a beautiful person whom he valued told him those people didn’t know what they were saying and I think you are amazing.
I am not a huge advocate of calling people stupid, but I have never heard the word used more appropriately. They are stupid. People who decide, for whatever insecure reasons, to meanly make judgments on who deserves to be popular and unpopular are stupid. I have nieces who are teenagers and I saw this play out just two weeks ago as one got verbally abused by some mean-spirited teens – so much so that it left her in tears and her spirit crushed. It’s heart wrenching if you are the unpopular kid. And it stays with you for life. My husband went through it. I went through it. This guy on television illustrated how much damage it can do – here he was 13 years later still desperately longing to hear those people were wrong.
If you endured this, and you don’t have someone right now to tell you that those people were stupid, then let me speak those words to you today. They were stupid. They didn’t know what they were talking about. You are beautiful or handsome. You have so much value. You are precious and such a wonderful addition to our world. They said those things out of very painful insecurities of their own not realizing the lasting pain it would cause you and not even believing what they said. So if you can, release a piece of that pain today. And another piece tomorrow. Each day come read this last paragraph and know that you are wonderful and any negative worthless labels that were given to you in elementary school or middle school or high school or college or at your office are not true. They are lies. The truth is that you are precious.
Isaiah 43 – For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…you are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you….