Scripture:Ephesians 4:25-5:2, NRSV
Location: First preached at Grace Presbyterian Church of Ft. Worth, Florida
I don’t know about you but as I get older I seem to uncover more and more about how I got to be the way I am. One of the main things that impacted me negatively in life happened when I was around six years old. I grew up in the 80’s when parents still let their kids run around the neighborhood in North East Ohio.
My parents worked a lot and they didn’t want me staying home for a long time alone by myself so I walked – maybe a mile and a half to a babysitter after school in a surrounding neighborhood. Now mind you I was six-ish. And I was in N.E. Ohio where there is pretty bad weather most times of the year.
But one day, for whatever reason, these two kids in older grades than me (4th and 6th grade if I remember correctly) started bullying me after school. And they’d hit me – never in the face – so you couldn’t tell, and they’d make me do stuff I didn’t want to do. And I was afraid. And it lasted a full school year. It got so bad that I started leaving school out a back door through the playground and then climbing a fence to try and walk a different way to the babysitters. But they still found me.
And I didn’t tell anybody because; I… I don’t know. I was ashamed, had I done something to deserve this I thought? I have never tried to make a big deal about it. My parents don’t even know about this to this day. I figure, what good would it do to tell them now?
But I was scared and I was pretty much helpless. And what I have learned over the years is that in those moments of vulnerability I was being formed. And that’s stuff that I now deal with every day. And I only tell this story to say that – I think that in our own way – we all deal with our five- or six-year-old selves’ issues. It really doesn’t matter what your context was or is – how someone else treated you - shaped you. And my point in all of this is to say that at a very deep level - how you choose to treat someone else will form him or her. And that formation, while it might be more impressionable when we are children, doesn’t stop there.
Now I don’t even remember what those kids’ names were that bullied me. I can’t remember what they looked like except that they were a lot bigger than me. I just know that their home life (because they drug me there numerous times) was far worse than mine.
Have you ever seen the scene in the movie Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams’ character, Sean Maguire - who is a psychiatrist, counsels Matt Damon’s character “Will” who was abused as a child. You don’t even have to have seen the movie to get the point of the clip – Williams holds up his file and says – you see this – all this shit – it's not your fault. And he just repeats it - over and over - It’s not your fault.
Folks, those things that happened to you when you were little, whatever they were, that gave you the baggage you have today. It’s not your fault.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. What things in your early childhood do you remember that shaped you either positively or negatively?
Q2. What is something that has happened in your life that made you feel helpless?
Q3. How does what you do in life have a ripple effect throughout existence?