Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If Nothing Changes - Nothing Changes !!

There are portions of my life that I just do not remember. Perhaps by choice. A friend prodded me into writing a book about my life in an effort to remember certain things which may help to explain why I respond to particular things the way that I do. I have done my best to not sugar-coat anything and to record events as they actually happened, not as I wished they had or the way I would otherwise like to remember them. So far, the title of the book is called "Nice Guys Finish Last - and that's okay". I'll let you know if it ever gets finished.
The following is an excerpt from that book......


High School (in a small town in the mountains of Colorado)
For most people, high school is referred to as the best time in their lives. It wasn’t that great of a time for me, but I did my best to make the most of it. As I mentioned earlier, I was a rather small person. Much smaller than other kids my age, so I was still the target of bullies and insensitive bone-heads.
I remember one particular bully who fancied himself to be a cowboy, even though he wasn’t. He just liked to look the part and act tough. I hadn’t paid any attention to him until he started messing with me on a regular basis. I was getting frustrated with being pushed around by guys like him so I asked my Dad what to do. He told me to stand up for myself, and just not to take it anymore. He warned me that I could get beaten up, but at least the bully will learn that I am no longer an easy mark. One day, I was presented the opportunity to test my Dad’s advice. After gym class, as I was preparing to leave the locker room, this “cowboy” walked in (for the next class), sat on a bench in front of the lockers and ordered me to take his boots off his feet. I told him “No” and that he’d have to do it himself. When he stood up to come after me, I hit him as hard as I could, right in the face (my hand hurt like crazy). “Cowboy” fell backwards over the bench, hit his head on the lockers and slid down between the lockers and the bench. Boy was he ever mad! I just walked out of the locker room while he continued to holler and scream. I didn’t mind though, I was going to my next class and he was stuck! He never bothered me much after that. He made some threats later that day and I told him to bring it on, and although he’d probably beat me up, he’d know for sure he’d been in a fight before he was finished. We pretty much avoided each other after that, and quite frankly, that was also the last time any bully messed with me at all. Gee, who would have thought that a little self-confidence could do so much?


During the summer before the start of my senior year of high school, Dad got transferred and we moved to Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. I had to finish high school in a totally new place. I didn’t know anybody! Then the thought occurred to me that no one there knew me, either! I could be anyone I wanted. So, I decided, after much thought, to just be me. But not the wimp that was bullied, but the new me with an air of self-confidence that didn’t cater to bullies. I was also very quiet and somewhat shy at the time (my wife says I must have really outgrown that one!) After a few months a fellow told me that I had a reputation in that school for being a tough guy. When I asked him how that could be, since I hadn’t done anything, he said it was because I was quiet and kept to myself. Gee, that would have gotten me beaten up back in Colorado! The only difference here, according to that fellow, is that I now appeared to have confidence in myself. I was no longer afraid or timid. I joined the wrestling team and made varsity. I was a part of a team. It really is something when your friends are the strongest, toughest, most athletic and highly respected guys in the school. I was changing and my self-esteem was growing.

After wrestling season, a friend introduced me to the world of martial arts. Another highly respected group in our school! I did really well, advanced quickly and became part of another awesome group of guys. I was still small, but I was no longer wimpy, timid or afraid. I started working with weights, and continued to exercise and advance in the martial arts, competing in karate tournaments around the D.C. area. I wasn’t arrogant or cocky, but now I was more sure of myself and no one messed with me anymore. I was growing, both inside and out. I even found time to be on the school bowling team. We even won the state championship that year.

I wasn’t a really good student. I graduated with my class, and it took a lot of hard work (when I actually decided to DO the work). Out of a class of about 500 students, I graduated at around 498. Not the smartest kid in school, but I wasn’t stupid either. I just wasn’t motivated and I didn’t care about grades or think about the future or what I wanted to do with my life. I was only concerned with the now, and I wasn’t too sure that mattered much either. This lack of thinking and planning was foolish thinking and I paid for it dearly later on.
I was never popular in school and I didn’t have any popular friends. I knew some of them through classes we shared, but I had no desire to be one of the popular kids, or to try to hang out with them. My Dad had taught me to just be me and to think for myself. So I decided early on that if being popular meant that I had to smoke and drink and do stupid things (sex and drugs), then I didn’t care to be associated with them.

I guess high school wasn’t really all that bad. I did survive, after all, and I learned a lot from my experiences. I learned that life is basically what you make of it. You can be a “victim” and complain how unfair life is and how poorly you were treated, or you can take control of yourself and do something about it.

  • - Are you feeling left out? Then get involved.
  • - Do you disagree with how things are done? Then join the group or club and work with the team for a positive change.
  • - Are you not being encouraged? Then encourage someone else. Things like that have a tendency to come back around.
  • - Do you know someone who is down and not getting a fair chance? Then reach out your hand and help them up.
  • - Do you wish you had more friends? Then be a friend to more people. (This doesn’t mean spending your money or driving them around or doing special favors or compromising your moral standards, you cannot buy real friends).
Think back on your own high school days. I’ll bet you learned more than you thought you did. I’ve met too many people who believed they just “had” to do drugs, or get drunk, or have sex, just because they wanted someone else’s friendship so badly, or to just fit into the group. To each person who’ve told me such things, I’ve asked only one question: Where are these “friends” now? Each time the answer is the same. They’re either still doing those same things (meaning they never grew), or they’re just plain “gone”. All that’s left from those relationships are painful memories, and feelings of shame, even as far as 30 years later.
If this is you, don’t give up and don’t be too hard on yourself. There is a hope. Would you like to put it all behind you and forget all about it? Would you like to be forgiven for all of the stupid things you’ve done in your life? (Trust me, I’ve done plenty!) Then give it all to God. Why not? You’ve tried just about everything else. All you need to do is ask. It’s that simple.
Here’s the point I would like for everyone to understand: Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son, came to earth a long time ago, and sacrificed His own life, just so that YOU can know forgiveness for your sins and spend eternity in paradise with Him. Why did He do it? Quite simply because He loves you. Really! He does! No one made Him do it and He was under no obligation to do anything, He chose to do it! For YOU! Pretty cool, huh? Would you like for God to forgive you? Do want to know how to forgive yourself? It’s really easy, just turn your life over to Jesus. He can do a much better job of running your life than you or I can.
Jesus was falsely accused, beaten, betrayed, abused, tortured and murdered on a cross. Makes all those times of being bullied seem like nothing, doesn’t it? Well, compared to what Christ went through, it is.
If you’d like to know more about how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, just ask someone who knows Him. You’ll be glad you did.
You can ask me if you'd like. I'd be happy to talk to you about it, or just listen if that's all you need. In case you're wondering why I would post something like this - just scroll back up to the top and read my profile.
Blessings to you.

2 comments:

Ellie said...

Amen.

Interesting story of your high school days. I was always the kid picked on in school, but I only got to go to the 8th grade, so I don't have high school memories. In 2001 I did go and study for my GED and passed the exam with the highest scores in my class. :) Anyway, great story. Let us know when you have your book finished. I am sure it will be interesting and a testimony for the ONE you serve.

Amy W said...

Thanks for the story, I love your blog....I will be going back and reading more...