When I was younger, I was a peanut. Unfortunately, because of my size, I was a target for bullying. There was one girl in particular in my neighborhood that was relentless. When I was 8 or 9 I was so fed up with her picking on me, that I went to my dad and asked him to teach me how to punch. (I am not an advocate of violence in any form. I simply wanted to be able to protect myself if it came to that). I don’t remember if I told my dad the reason, but he not only taught me how to throw a punch, but he also taught me how to block one.
My best friend at the time was also named Lisa. Because we were always together, most people called us by our first and middle name. So, I was known as Lesa Page (yes my parents spelled both of my names wrong). We were out in the neighborhood playing one day and “bully” girl started harassing me. She was always telling me she was going to “kick my butt” so I basically told her to do it and get it over with…I was tired of her threatening me. So she did…or at least she tried. She pulled back and threw a punch. I blocked it with my left arm and bawled up my right hand into a fist and hit her right in the stomach. (again not supporting violence, I was 8 or 9 and at my breaking point). She was shocked and ran home crying.
I few minutes later the “bully” girl and her mom were knocking on my friend Lisa’s front door (they lived across the street from her). Her mom answered the door and “bully” girl’s mom proceeded to yell at her and tell her that she needed to control her daughter. Apparently, “bully” girl ran home telling her mom that Lesa hit her (not using a middle name to distinguish which one). Her mom assumed it was my friend, who was much bigger than me and her daughter. My friend’s mom looked at the other mom and said “it wasn’t my Lisa who hit her, it was this one,” and pointed at me. When “bully” girl’s mom learned that it was me that hit her daughter, she just took her by the arm, walked off the porch, and went home.
So what’s that familiar saying…don’t judge a book by its cover? Well obviously we should do this more often with people…and not just because they might haul off and punch you in the stomach (wink). Unfortunately, the truth is that we do judge others. Even in a place that should be a judge free zone…like the Church. When I was younger, I was judged because of my size. Today I am judged because my son is gay. The judgement I receive, however, is nothing like what he receives. I don’t mean to be crude, but in the eyes of many Christians, gay people are seen as a sexual act…not as human beings. The thought process tends to be about what gay people do…not who they are as people. This is why many of them stay away from church. They feel either invisible or like a “problem” or “situation” that needs to be handled. This is so devastating to them…and their families. When I go to church on Sundays, and the ushers open the doors for me, metaphorically I am hearing church doors slam in the face of my son. How will he ever find his way back to the One who created him if God’s people judge him harshly and unfairly? I think Jesus would want us to be better representatives. Don’t you?
By the way, I grew up to be a whopping 5 foot, half an inch (smile).
Love each other…because love matters.