This is part of a series of letters to those who may feel lost. Sometimes when we are down, discovering something in the mailbox is just the thing.
It reminds us that we aren’t as alone as we think.
However, today I write to a young woman who feels safely distanced enough through Internet anonymity to mindlessly type words to one such as Lily and then hit send.
I’m tempted to not dignify her with a name, but that always gives more power to the deceiver. It’s important that we put both a name and a face with the painful text. After all, someone who really knows who they are would never hide behind secrecy.
Let’s call her Ashley.
I know what you’ve been doing to Lily.
I see you shrug your shoulders and say “it was all a joke, it really isn’t that big of a deal – besides everyone was doing it.”
My first instinct is to grab you and shake you so hard that your teeth rattle and then scream “What is wrong with you?”
Okay, it would also be my second.
And my third.
It is NOT a joke.
It really IS a big deal.
And right now, I’m dealing with you – you can’t hide anymore behind this nameless group called “everybody.”
So, I’ll punch the wall, pace for a few hours, and take some calming breaths.
And quietly ask again:
“What is wrong with you?”
What has happened that you find yourself numb to the pain of those around you?
How can it be that don’t give a second thought before hitting “send” and causing that deeply personal agony in Lily?
Why can’t you see that Lily is actually a real, living, suffering young woman much like yourself?
Ashley, what is wrong?
Setting aside for a moment the rage I feel about what is happening to Lily, I’m trying to step in your shoes for a second to see if I can understand what is going on in your mind.
I will be honest, I don’t want to linger there very long. Right now your mind is not a good place to be.
But, in trying to see you as your Father in Heaven sees you, I can perceive fear.
Fear that if you don’t just “go along” with things, then you’ll have to stand on your own.
Fear of just being alone.
But your solution is to make sure that Lily is alone – so you don’t have to be.
And that’s wrong.
Ashley, don’t let it be “what’s wrong with you” anymore.
Bullying is simply trying to run hard enough to stay ahead of what, in the end, will ALWAYS catch up with the bully: facing the fear that no one will like you for just you.
Truthfully, as a bully, no one ever will.
So stop it.
Stop it for yourself.
You need to take the risk to first like yourself before anyone else will.
It will be a lonely road in the beginning; people will be cautious because of what you have done in the past.
But then, that would only be just and fair after the loneliness you have caused, and that is an important part in truly changing yourself.
In time you will see there is a new group of “everybody” waiting on the other end of the social spectrum. They may not be as popular – but they are certainly more kind.
Deep down, that’s who you really are. That’s the person you are searching for to like. That’s the Ashley who can live in the open without fear that others won’t like you just for you.
So, start it. Now.