People are Mean

There was this kid at my high school that was rumored to be a circus performer. He was a year younger than me so I didn’t have classes with him or know him at all, let alone if that was true. Circus performer or not, he clearly loved to juggle and do other carnival-style feats and would practice his little stunts during breaks and lunch time.

I remember this one particular group of kids that would often ask him to do tricks in the middle of the jam-packed hallway between classes. They’d chant and clap and cheer until there was a ring of rubbernecks around him and he’d eagerly comply with their entertainment whims.

Unfortunately, they weren’t actually interested in his talents. They were just looking for someone to ridicule; just a bunch of heartless gawkers looking for a freak show, a dancing bear. There was a lot of muffled laughter and overenthusiastic applause to keep the show going. And it did. Because for a fleeting moment, that kid thought he was a star. It was like watching someone coerce their love-starved dog into doing silly tricks for a little appreciation and a pitiful treat. It was pathetic.

People are mean. Some people enjoy being mean the way some of us enjoy crumbling dirt in our hands and watching the grains sift through our fingers.

Middle school girls are especially mean. Gossip, insults, silent treatment, exclusion, out-and-out lies and bullying are what my daughter sees or is sometimes the victim of daily.

It’s really hard for me as a mom to not want to storm through her cafeteria and go all Jesus-and-the-money-changers on those kids and start flipping over tables and beating the bottoms of those sadistic kids with a big ol’ paddle. Instead, I’m doing my best to teach my daughter how to stick up for herself and others, to talk things out first and when that doesn’t work, tell the teachers about it. I am trying my darnedest to help her empathize with these bullies and remind her that when people are unhappy and unloved, they lash out.

Mostly, though, we talk about forgiveness. Because when the little tiffs blow over, when she moves on to high school or college – no matter where she goes – there will be more mean people and unfair treatment waiting for her.

I wish I could tell her it’s just the way kids are at her age. It would be nice if I could tell her that she won’t have to worry about getting hurt at church or other places that should be “safe”. I would love it if people simply grew out of their meanness.

But we all know it’s just not as simple as all that. Understanding and practicing forgiveness are the only ways to cope with this harsh reality.

Designed by God, forgiveness is a strange and beautiful paradox. When we forgive, we are healed; when our hearts are doused in pain, forgiveness ignites compassion. It keeps our spirit soft and our hearts intact. It strengthens resolve to say “yes” whenever you can, help whenever you’re able, support, guide and encourage whenever its needed because you know how badly it hurts to be ignored, rejected and betrayed  – especially by those you thought were on your side.

I don’t want my little girl that used to burst onto playgrounds looking for friends with her pigtails flying and arms wide to become jaded and reticent because of the thoughtless behavior of others. I would do anything to spare my daughter from unkindness, but people will always fail, including me. And when they do I don’t want my daughter to lose faith in humanity, I want her to find strength in the God that restores her heart and renews her mind so that she remains confident in herself and tender towards others even when they’re mean.

Angie Derrick 10/25/2012 ©

Goody-Two-Shoes Got Pregnant: Portrait of a Christian Girl

I was nineteen and unmarried when I got pregnant with my daughter. As people in church began to find out that I was pregnant, there was one reaction in particular that I’ll never forget.

“Wow! Goody-two-shoes got pregnant! I never thought you had it in you,” was the almost impressed reply.

I really think this response summarized what a lot of people were thinking: I may have been self-controlled and pious on the outside, but based on this recent news, I was probably just a wild child waiting to be loosed. They probably assumed I was one of those “still waters run deep” cases where no one really ought to be surprised if they were paying any attention.

But nothing could have been further from the truth. I wasn’t attention-seeking, wild, promiscuous, or even in love. Nothing that was the typical titillating fodder of church gossip could explain why a nice christian girl like me with apparently sincere beliefs would end up falling so hard and so publically.

When I look back at what took me to that point of throwing caution and my convictions to the wind, I remember some growing feelings:

I was exhausted. My dad died halfway through my sophomore year in high school. Only one week after my dad’s funeral I dove into thirty grueling months of zero hour, after school classes, summer school, some evening classes at the community college and even piano lessons. I had to complete four years of school in just two and a half because I was homeschooled while dad was sick. I needed to help take care of my baby sisters. And I needed to spend every possible minute that I had left with my dad. I had a lot to catch up on and very little sleep to keep me going.

I was alone. I had friends and family, but I was alone with my feelings. I didn’t have anyone I could share my sadness, frustrations, fears or secrets with that understood or had the maturity to support me through what I was experiencing. Not willing to be the party-pooper or a “burden” to anyone, I kept most of my feelings to myself.

I was numb. Three and a half years of watching your father writhe in pain and lose his mind will do that to you. Seeing my mother lose weight, sleep and the love of her life to the soundtrack of crying babies that ached for her but had to settle for me will wring tears dry. Then there were all my own fears and hurts that scraped across my heart so many times that any feeling was lost to survival.

No one just throws away their life, their beliefs, their dreams and goals freely with both hands. It’s wrenched from them. Wrestled away, not in one instance, but over time by insecurity, betrayal, pain, confusion, fear, loss; and then one day you just can’t fight back anymore and you give it all away.

Then you’re left with nothing and you want something. You want to feel alive even if it’s all wrong. It’s in that vulnerable state that you do and accept things you wouldn’t have before.

And indeed, a lot of things went wrong, not all of them my fault. I let myself get buried in my pain when I should have been reaching out for help. I chose to be led by my needs and not my God. I made bad decisions. But I also really needed people to surround me with persistent friendship, support and prayer; to remind me when I was too tired to think that I was loved and my God was able to meet all my needs.

We are not meant to live or struggle alone. God created family, friendship, love. Jesus had disciples, and even God is a triune being. Never miss an opportunity to feed, comfort, support, love, listen, protect or befriend. Your presence can make a difference in someone’s life. Your kindness could be the strength someone needs to claw out of the rubble and clasp God’s hand.

Angie D 6/7/12 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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