Uncool… Again.

When we moved to New Bern just before my sophomore year of high school, coming from a school of around 500 kids where I knew everybody, to a school of about 1600 kids where I knew nobody, I wasn’t under any illusion that I had the slightest hope of being popular. But I was more than willing to settle for mediocrity. My goal was just to not stand out, because that would make me an easy target. But when you’re new and overweight, with braces and the self-esteem of a bucket of worms, you might as well wear a neon sign that says, “Torment me.”

And they did.

The girls alternated between talking behind my back about my clothes and flatly ignoring me. But the boys…

I guess I thought that because my older brother made it into the cool crowd (he was a wrestler and on the baseball team), that I would somehow get a respite from the teasing, but no. And in 11th grade, when I ended up in classes with large groups of his friends and teammates, I found that each day brought a new insult or stunt designed to humiliate me. It frustrated me when they would try to get me to let them cheat off my papers. It bothered me whenever I’d get a new boyfriend and they’d tell everybody that he must be gay. I don’t even want to list the names they called me. But then, they pulled the prank…

Almost the entire baseball team was in my fourth period Spanish class that spring. And each day after lunch, I’d have to come upstairs and spend an hour with them. That particular day, when I passed their lunch table in the cafeteria, I noticed that they were watching me and whispering. So, when we went upstairs after lunch, I was preparing myself for the verbal jabs or the insulting notes taped to my backpack.

I got upstairs first and waited by Mrs. Davita’s locked door, with my arms crossed. I saw them coming up the hall laughing, and wondered what they’d cooked up this time. I didn’t have to wait long to find out. The tallest, cockiest, most obnoxious one of them walked straight up to me, grabbed me, and planted a huge kiss on my lips.

The shock didn’t last but a second before I started fighting my way out of his grip. The entire hallway had stopped and was watching and cheering—the baseball team the loudest. And as soon as he let me go, I balled up my fist and hit him as hard as I could. And that just caused them all—including him—to laugh all the harder. By the time the teachers got up there, they had missed the whole spectacle. Funny, I don’t think anyone else had.

I sat in class that day to the sound of snickers and giggles. And the guy who had done this just happened to be the guy who sat directly in front of me and who the teacher always assigned me to do group work with. He leered at me throughout the entire assignment. I just sat there wishing I could kill him. But when my brother came home that night and laughingly told me that the group had dared the boy to do this to me and paid him money to do it, I knew exactly who I wanted to kill.

Me.

You see, these boys had put a price on me and had paid money for my humiliation. And knowing that made me feel worthless. And also knowing that nobody cared enough to defend me, sharpened the edges of the pain and worthlessness. The cuts have lasted for years.

Thirty pieces of silver. The religious leaders paid one of Jesus’ friends thirty pieces of silver for the privilege of humiliating Jesus. A simple carpenter-turned-preacher, but they paid the money and then stripped off his clothes and eviscerated him. They hung this innocent, naked, bleeding man in front of the entire city, spitting on him and killing him because they found him worthless.

But he let them do it because he found me not worthless. He found me priceless.

The words of my friend, Bonnie, come back to me often:

It’s okay that nobody defended me, because He’s my defender. I don’t have to be hurt, because He hurts for me. And one day, they will have to stand before my Jesus and explain why they hurt me.

That’s what makes it okay for me to forgive. That’s what heals the humiliation and lifts my head. That’s what gives me value and worth. It brings me closer to Jesus. It makes me understand Him better. And it helps me to strive with everything in me to share His love with others—and to show them their value and their worth.

You are special. You are loved. You have value and worth—not just to me—but to Him. And that’s the most important thing. Way more important than being cool in 11th grade.

Today, I had a friend tell me that her very beautiful, intelligent daughter is being tormented at school. So, I’m reposting this for her… You are beautiful. You are strong. You are worth more than they say you are. Don’t ever let them tell you who you are. You are amazing. You are priceless. 

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Sarah! You are amazing friend 😉

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Mary! You, too! :)

  3. Yes, and AMEN, sweet Sarah!! I love this post and I love YOU and you are invaluable and cherished by The One who created you. You are precious! ?

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Joell! I love you, too! :)

  5. Kathy Winegardner says:

    Sarah…thanks so much for sharing your story! Isn’t it wonderful that our pastor is telling us to share our story so that we can make an impact on others for Christ…that’s exactly what you are doing and have been doing. It takes courage and with Christ’s help it is possible…because with God all things are possible and He is able!! You already know that I believe you are priceless! Love you!

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Kathy! I’ve lived through some not-so-fun stuff. If I have to have lived through it, I might as well share it to make something good out of it… To lift somebody else’s burden. And knowing YOUR story has made MY story easier to tell, my friend! Love you, too!

  7. Dear Sarah,
    These things are unspeakable and I am so angry and hurt that you went through this. I was spared this because I was home-schooled. I can’t understand how parents and teachers can voluntarily place their precious kids at their most vulnerable in such torture chambers, branding them for life with lie messages about who they are and what they are worth. The pack mentality makes sinners beasts. I am glad vengeance is the Lord’s, not mine–because I want to beat them all up for you!

    What you wrote brought to my mind C.S. Lewis’ statement that we have never met a mere mortal. If these creeps had seen you as you will be when your Father, with deep delight and pride, displays you before the universe as the work of His hand for the display of His splendor–oh, that’s right, they WILL and if they have not already repented, they will mourn at His feet and yours in remorse and deepest sorrow.

  8. Love your post Sarah.. Especially love You are worth more than they say you are. Don’t ever let them tell you who you are. You are amazing. You are priceless. That’s so true and correct.

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Jessica, most parents don’t have a choice but to send their kids to school and hope for the best. I know that was the case with us. And honestly, until we got to this school, it wasn’t so bad. And really, once these guys graduated, my senior year was much less traumatic. I love the scripture in James that says that out of all of creation, WE are his prized possessions. I wish I’d known that then… :)

    Lara, thank you! :)

  10. Well I’m still mad at them. Just a little kick? Just a little push off a cliff?

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