As a young girl in grade school I was outgoing and generally made friends easily. The transition to Jr. High was painful and awkward for me. My sister and I were tall and we were very skinny and so that also meant that we were flat-chested as well. In 7th grade we also had braces and we had worn glasses for a couple of years. Everything seemed to change in relationship to boys and girls. Prior to 7th grade I had been friends with a lot of boys, we all hung out together on the play ground and had a great time. Of course there were the secret crushes but that is all that they were for us. We knew that we could not date until we were 16 years old.
I was not prepared for the endless tormenting that I received; I think I heard every flat chest joke that was ever invented. The cruelty of some of the students was almost unbearable at times and the actions of some of the boys would now be considered sexual harassment. At school I became withdrawn and I only really talked to my friends that I trusted. I felt ugly, stupid, clumsy, and inadequate most of the time. I really began to struggle with school and I had no desire even go.
Eventually I learned to survive and even joke about some of the teasing, though it hurt deep inside. My families love for me, my faith in God, and my friends became my anchor for me during that difficult time. At home and with my friends I was very talkative and outgoing but at school I became silent. I felt like I didn’t have anything important to say and I didn’t want to add anything else to endless list of what some of the kids teased me about.
In the spring of my sophomore year I had to take a speech class. I dreaded the thought of getting up in front of my peers and talking. But what they didn’t know and what I didn’t fully understand at that point was that I loved to talk and that it was as natural to me as breathing. Just ask my family….they could tell you a lot of stories.
My twin sister Jimella had done well in speech and of course I didn’t want her to surpass me in one of my favorite pass times.
I prepared for my first speech by rehearsing in front of a mirror over and over again. It was a good thing that we had two bathrooms in our house. I prayed and prayed and that God would give me the strength to be able to talk in front of everyone and that I would not mess up. I felt calm and peaceful and as I opened my mouth to talk it just flowed. I surprised myself, my classmates and the teacher with my ability to talk in front of people.
I even one best speech for the first round of speeches. I was thrilled and it was the extra confidence boost that I needed. The book that we studied for speech class was “See You at the Top” by Zig Ziglar. The book was about the power of positive thinking and I loved it. I would devour the chapters and eagerly write my next speech. For the first time in many years I was finally excelling in one of my classes. I could easily understand what Zig had to share with us and in time it became part of me.
At the end of quarter the class would always vote on who was the most positive person in the classroom. They would receive a copy of the book that we had been studying. I wanted to earn that title and I wanted that book. I prayed about it a lot… but some of my old fears came creeping back. I’m not good enough and I’m not one of the popular kids in school, this is beyond my reach. But then I would remember what God had to say about me and what I was learning about positive thinking from Zig Ziglar.
The big day finally arrived and because I had received the most awards for speaking and quite a few other ones I was an automatically put on the ballot. On the ballot was also one of the most popular boys in the whole school. I knew that I had done the best job I possibly could and that whatever happened I would be okay.
You cannot imagine the joy that I felt in my heart when I won the award and the class shouted and cheered. The boy that I had won against came and told me that he was glad that I had won and that he had voted for me because I deserved the award the most.
As I was presented that book I knew deep in my heart that God had helped me achieve this goal to show me that I was special and that I did matter. I also decided that someday I was going to meet Zig Ziglar and have him sign that book for me. My next writing I will share with you how I met Zig Ziglar….. The story will be entitled: "I danced with Zig!"
In closing I would like to share with your this scripture passage: "1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. 4 Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you."
Isaiah 43:1-4 (NKJV)