Junior High was where my “melancholy,” my introvertedness, and my faith based teaching collided. Only in my adult years, post law school even, have I come to terms with what happened in junior high. Had I written this in college, I would have started with Matthew 5:11 –
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Because I was taught, and was firmly convicted on point, that I should not curse, drink, or look the wrong way at girls, I liberally gave my corrective assistance and reminders to anyone who committed these sins. I was doing God’s work. The beneficiaries of my charity did not see it the same way though. I found myself sitting at lunch by myself, wondering why no one wanted me around. Once I realized the other students were still pointing and laughing and making fun of me, I obtained permission to eat in the library instead of the lunch room. Even then though, when other boys finished their food, they found entertainment in coming in to the library, challenging me to fights, and calling me “gay.”
This certainly did not help someone dealing with social issues and depression already, and here is where I found some of the darkest days. From my perspective, even my closest friends had turned their backs on me and ridiculed me, based on my “righteousness.”
Enter Miss Williams. She played clarinet in the band, and she would often join me in the library. Nothing other than platonic; she was a sister who encouraged me to keep on when I felt like no one else cared. That friendship got me through junior high. I wish I knew where she was today. On point, books have always been a comforting presence. In elementary school, the library was often my recess fun. In jr. high, the library was my refuge. Today, my study is my refuge, well appointed studies are oases, and historical or ancient libraries are meccas.
As stated above, I was convinced for years that I was persecuted for the sake of Christ. At some point I began to see that Christ was not behind my actions so much as the acts of my “persecutors.” I am certain they were not aware of God using them then anymore than I was. Today I understand that rudely enforcing my own standards of behavior upon people who don’t even share my beliefs is not commanded, or even suggested, by Christ, in words or especially by example. I was a jackass – a judgmental arrogant boy who condescendingly corrected the sins of other while being blinded to his own by his overwhelming pride.
So thank you, and my apologies to those who challenged me to ridiculous fights and called me gay. Thank you who helped make me what I am today, and I’m ok with me now. But I wasn’t then. Not yet.