In September of 1968 I entered Senior High School. Although my birth certificate said I was 15 years old, my life reflected someone far younger. During my nightmare years in Junior High I had been driven into being a recluse and an inferiority complex I didn’t know existed in Grade School dominated my life from the first day of 7th grade until the last day of 9th grade. I can honestly say that I have NO fond memories of those three years whatsoever.
The problem was that I never was able to transition from the security of a small Elementary School to Junior High. I immediately became intimidated by those in grades ahead of me, and like vultures, they sensed this and relentlessly hounded and beat up on me. Going from the comfortable setting of having one teacher for a whole year to attending different classes each hour for some reason threw me into a state of confusion and turmoil.
If going from an Elementary school with a couple of hundred students to a Junior High School with nearly a thousand was tough, moving on to the High School with 2,500 students was absolute torture. Instead of "blending in" as my parents had hoped, I quickly became lost. My only friends in life were one grade behind me so they were not there. I was literally all alone.
In desperation, my parents demanded I attend the first dance of the year in September. They dropped me off at the school where I waited until the football game was over and the hoards of students arrived. I remember being glued to the wall in a corner somewhere. I literally hoped that I was invisible.
As more and more kids showed up and the music started I was seized with fear like I had never experienced in my life. I broke out in a cold sweat and was shaking. Out of desperation I slithered behind the folded up bleachers in the gym and hid. I stayed there, quiet as a mouse until the duly appointed time for my dad to pick me up. I never ate or drank anything and I absolutely never talked to a soul.
Of course I told my parents I had a good time but that I didn’t want to do it again. They seemed content in knowing that their plan worked and that I was finally socializing. Little did they know the exact opposite was taking place. I vowed in my young mind to never again be in a "social" situation with people I did not know. I retreated even further into my self imposed prison.
In the weeks and months that followed, I became more and more introverted. I recall vividly having to give oral book reports in English class and breaking out into the same cold sweat as I had at that dance. I would stand before the class and do nothing but stutter. Many times I was laughed at and made fun of. Every time I felt like such a fool and wanted to just crawl into a hole and never come out.
Amazingly, no one during that year ever tried to help me. No teachers, no counselors and no peers ever pulled me aside and asked what was wrong or what they could do for me. I was looked upon as a freak and treated like I had leprosy. That year was the longest and most difficult year I ever lived. Never had I so looked forward to the summer more than that year.
In the summer of 1969 my parents decided to pull all the stops to force me out of my prison. They more or less made me get a job, which I did quickly up the street at a small restaurant. There I met a guy who immediately took me under his wing and told me he was going to become my best friend. He was nearly three years older than I was and he quickly became just that (and still is). In June of that summer my parents demanded I go on a one week float trip down a river in Missouri with the boy scout troop I belonged to.
Later I went with my parents to visit relatives in Minnesota and spent time with cousins who for some reason liked me. After those trips I was starting to crawl out of my shell and a local cousin hooked me up on my first date in life. Of course I was smitten and was making plans for the upcoming wedding after one evening bowling with her and my cousin.
With this introduction, I beg of you to indulge me the next few days as I seek to pay proper tribute to what God did for and with me on August 24, 1969. I am fully aware that what took place on that day 40 years ago could not and would not have ever happened if I had not first gone through and experienced all that led up to it. Even during the darkest of those dark days in 10th grade, God was with me guiding and directing my steps toward my appointment with destiny in August of that year.
Little did I know on August 23, 1969 that I would never be the same the next day. Little did I know that as I faced the daily ordeal of being around people and not fitting in, not having anything to say and feeling like there was something wrong with me, that it would be the last day I would feel that way. But, God knew and in His due time He led me to the place where I would give my heart and life to Him. Please stay tuned as I share what He did in recognition of the 40th anniversary of when He did it—TOMORROW.
"There I met a guy who immediately took me under his wing and told me he was going to become my best friend. He was nearly three years older than I was and he quickly became just that (and still is). "
It reminds me of Psalms 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Thank God for faithful brothers/sisters who stand by us and who never give up on us in times of adversity.
This is just another reminder to me that our times are in His hands. Is it not wonderful how God can take the painful and dark times in our lives and transform them in a way which often not only impacts us but touches the lives of others as well? I'm looking forward to reading that blog tomorrow!
What an amazing (but probably more common than one thinks) story and you do it so well. God does place people and situations in our lives that do in fact constitutute His voice. When we are waiting for the dramatic miricle, He blows you away with a solution such as a friend, at the right place and right time. I would suspect that your next blog refects some of those subtleties. Faith is built block by block not be a erection of a single monument. Right?