Memories of my high school cafeteria are forever engrained in my mind. Do you know how some memories never leave your mind, like ants never leave a picnic unless you exterminate them? This is one of those memories. It has stayed with me since 1984. The good news is I’m not controlled by it anymore. It’s simply a distant memory.
When I was in my senior year of high school, we were all sitting around in the outdoor cafeteria eating lunch. One day a classmate called me by name and asked me to stand. Unknowingly and willingly, I stood. He, too, stood up, and there we were, the two of us standing in front of about fifty classmates. He then proceeded to say the cruelest words I had ever heard anyone say to me.
“Duby, you are the ugliest girl in this whole school!”
When he finished his insult, the place erupted in laughter, people clapped, and he proceeded to sit down and finish his lunch. I slowly sank into a pile of a newly formed image of myself. Talk about lonely.
His words cut like a knife that day, forever engrained in my memory, and for years to come, I would own those words as if every one of them were true. Insults can have lasting effects.
Baggage can be heavy.
It took me many years to accept that his insult was not true. But until then, I carried those words around like baggage. I let that jerk define me for many years. Only until I found my relationship with Jesus in 1999 did I finally figure out those cruel words spoken by an immature teenager were just that – cruel words.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
I could have used some encouraging words that day, but no one said anything in response to his insults and cruel words. I’m so thankful years later that I fell in love with someone who would never speak that way to me ever, and His name is Jesus Christ.
Our words can cut like a knife, and Jesus knows I have flailed a knife or two in my day, only to regret it later.
There’s a song that goes something like this: “Oh be careful little mouth what you say. Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say. For the Father up above is listening down in love, so be careful little mouth what you say.”
Heavenly Father, I am grateful for your abundant love and truth of who I am and how you see me and know that I am not defined by a few empty words of a teenage boy from 38 years ago. Father, you have given me life, a life more abundant and filled by your design. Thank you for helping me to forgive him for the pain he inflicted. Lord, I know you are with me, and no matter what I go through, I trust you will remain with me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.