“Don’t let them get to you, Heather. I mean it! Listen to me. Don’t listen to what they say. They’re just jealous of you because you’re special.”
I remember my mother’s words desperately trying to console and encourage my seventh grade self. She had said this so many times after I’d come home broken and scarred so deeply by the words spoken to me by my tormentors. From first grade and even well into adulthood, there was always someone bullying me; always someone telling me I wasn’t enough, in some capacity or another. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my mother’s words that I believed to be true. It was the ugliness of the words my peers had spoken over me that shaped my identity.
For the longest time I never understood her statements. I just chalked it up to be that of bias parent, in which only a mother can see and believe what she was saying about her child. My reality was: how could these girls, who basically had it all, looks/grades/money/etc, be jealous of me? Why would anyone be jealous? I wasn’t blind. I owned a mirror. The reflection looking back at me wasn’t one to be jealous of having. I wasn’t pretty or skinny. I was very plain. There weren’t any guys lining up to get my number. A fact that could be supported by the many guys who also had no issue making fun of me. I was an average student; shy and quiet. There was NOTHING special about me. Everything I could see and feel was confirmed by my peers. Their words were facts for me and my mother’s…just a silly illusion.
“So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.” 1Sam 1:6-1Sam 1:7 NLT
I imagine that Peninnah’s words had the same effect on Hannah. How could she believe anything besides what she was seeing and feeling? That was her truth. From where she stood, she was a failure and completely lacking anything that indicated that there was anything special about her. The one thing that women were created to do, she couldn’t….bear children. And she always had someone there, reminding her why she wasn’t good enough.
It’s interesting that in all of Peninnah’s taunting, Hannah doesn’t retaliate. Instead, she just cried. To some that may appear as weakness. I know that was the case for me. I never responded, I just went home and cried. Looking back, I have to believe it wasn’t weakness that kept me from retaliating. It had to be something else; something bigger than myself.
I’m grown now, with three children of my own. They’re still young enough that they haven’t been introduced to bullying just yet. *Ain’t nothing like personal experience to light a fire under a momma to be praying against that day from ever happening!* That set aside, I have to say that I finally understand my mother’s words. They weren’t an illusion. They ARE truth. And not because she said it, but because my Father said it. A parent can speak the truth over their child because they love their child and see them as God does.
I believe God blessed Hannah with an inner strength, to endure the constant torment from her bully with grace and mercy even. She didn’t allow it to harden her heart but instead to pursue Him more. That strength to remain humble and faithful, even in her brokenness, made her a vessel worthy of the Master’s use. That made her special. God saw Hannah. He knew, even if she didn’t, that she was going to be the mother of the prophet that would anoint the head of king David, out of who’s line our savior would come. Peninnah’s taunting only made Hannah that much stronger.
Its no coincidence that the Lord makes this very point to Samuel, Hannah’s son, as he is preparing to anoint young David.
Let us not define ourselves by what the bullies of this world say about us, but rather by the one Who designed us; Whose definition is based on our heart and goes beyond the limited perception of those who are only flesh and blood.
To everyone who has been the victim of bullying, I say to you: Take courage and rest in the truth that YOU. ARE. SPECIAL. You are not who the world says you are but who Your Father says you are. He sees you and loves you.
Heather Whidden loves Jesus, is married to her best friend and is mother of 3 blessings. She is a professional photographer and has a heart for ministry. She loves spending time with her family and friends, writing, reading, and traveling. Time and people is what she values most. You can read more about her here.