A Saturday Request: Give Yourself Time
Folks, after reading this post from Jason Cushman (also known as the Opinionated Man) about an acquaintance of his who committed suicide years ago, I have some thoughts.
Jason’s post discusses a young man he knew from church camps, Josiah. Josiah was often teased, as Josiah’s name means “the Lord supports, the Lord saves, and the Lord heals.” (Or to put it another way, Josiah is a very tough name to live up to — the kids often teased Josiah because they felt he was meant to be a messiah, if I understood Jason’s post correctly.) Perhaps none of the kids meant badly by it, but Jason quite rightly calls it a form of casual bullying. As Jason put it in his post:
When I reflect on these trips and more importantly Josiah, I feel like he probably dreaded coming to them and that was a shame for someone who obviously valued our faith. I stop myself from thinking that way because I don’t know for sure and it really does no good to burden one’s self with guilt if you aren’t sure you are guilty. I can say that I am somewhat ashamed that a boy going through his own journey of self-realization couldn’t recognize another person who was doing the same. More importantly my own experiences receiving daily bullying from my differing cultural surroundings did not create any sense of understanding at the time of what I was taking part in and that it was wrong. Like I said, we were children and children can be some of the most evil creatures on this planet when it comes to social drama and interaction.
I think the most important line there — or at least the one that resonated the most with me — is this one: “I can say that I am somewhat ashamed that a boy going through his own journey of self-realization couldn’t recognize another person who was doing the same.”
But we’ve all been guilty of that, from time to time. Haven’t we? (If we’re honest, we’re going to say yes.)
Anyway, Jason’s post got me to thinking. Thus today’s request, which is simply this: Please, give yourself time.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to shrug off someone else’s opinion of you, especially when you want them to care or be impressed by what you’re doing. But if you live long enough and give yourself time to understand yourself a little better, eventually you learn that their opinion of you is not what’s important.
What’s important, ultimately, is what you do in this life. How much you learn. How much you grow, and change, and experience…but to do all that, you must first give yourself time to figure yourself out.
Too many kids, whether it’s Jason’s childhood acquaintance Josiah or transgender youth Leelah Alcorn, don’t realize this. They are in so much pain, and they think that pain will be everlasting, unending, and of course they can’t stand it. They get to the point that it seems that no one will understand, or care — and they take themselves out of life before they can learn otherwise.
I understand this feeling quite well. I was often depressed, growing up. For a time, I felt like I was encased in a wall of ice, and I couldn’t reach out…fortunately, my parents found me a good counselor, and I was able to open myself up to him.
You see, I was different than everyone around me. I often was bullied, too, especially in junior high school. (We didn’t call it “middle school,” then.) I got along with many people, yes, but most of them were a great deal older than I was…I thought I was a misfit, doomed to never find a friend, doomed to never be happy with anyone, ever.
Eventually, I learned I was wrong. But it took me time, and a good amount of trial and error, until I figured this out.
So, today, I want you to do one, simple thing: Give yourself time. Time to step back. Time to forgive yourself, if need be. Time to recognize your growth. Time to recognize that you, yourself, are a worthwhile and valuable person.
If you can do that, you are one step ahead of the game. And you’ll be much more mentally healthy, besides.