To All My Haters:
I thought I had a fairly accurate list of your names. The list really started when I was really young, after I was openly teased for unashamedly dancing at a five-year-old’s skating rink birthday party. I agreed with you then that I was silly and worthy of rejection; I just happened to write down the wrong name.
The list of haters was but a few names added here and there until you found me in middle school, awkward and blooming perhaps, but more than that anxious and balancing everything I wanted to do and be. You told me then I was a joke of a basketball player–too aggressive and passionate despite my lack of real talent. You told me then I had little hope of ever being considered beautiful by any boy whatsoever. You told me then I was weird for spending my time playing with younger kids or talking to older adults.
Each of you followed me into high school, and still I added even more wrong names to the list. However, these names were different from those I first wrote down. You convinced me these were the names of those I had only thought I could trust to love me and believe in me, to encourage me and work with me and not against me. And yet, it was you, not them, who told me I was too sensitive, too over-the-top, too intense, too scatter-brained, too fat, too ugly, too smart, too “Christian,” too above, too beneath, too much, and yet never, ever enough. You almost had me do myself in a few times too.
I thought I would never have to add a single name to my list of haters after high school when my dreams came true and I achieved the highest of my goals–success in the one arena I worked so hard to be accepted into and come out as a worthy contender. Instead, I felt forced to write down the names of those I admired most, those whose judgment would come back to haunt me every time I speak a word out loud. These names became the members of a hard-and-fast jury in my head, condemning me for my shortcomings in the realms of what I once considered to be my innate strengths. And I completely accepted this standing jury’s judgment as withstanding truth. After all, as fellow arena members they were supposed to be my people, and those “strengths” of mine certainly should have been flawless by now.
For years, I carried that list around in my soul and let it rip me to shreds from the inside out. I hated myself because that whole list of names told me I should.
That is, until I finally saw who you really were.
You were never who I thought you were. Yet, you fooled me all the same. Worse, you had me join you in the hate-club, join you in the destruction, join you in your goals against me.
You robbed me of myself. You stole the little girl who danced unashamedly on skating rink benches. You stole the girl who threw elbows and dove for basketball balls on the court. You stole the girl who had wild confidence and bold presence. You stole the girl who led others with compassion, with creativity, and with character. You stole the girl who was deemed worthy from the start and had her believe all along she wasn’t ever worthy.
And I let you get away with it, too.
It’s still a habit of mine to want to carry around that old list of names as though they are to blame for all you have really done to me. I think you prefer it that way. I still want to believe all the things you told me about myself because my experiences seemed to prove your words to be true. But that is really just me joining you in the fight against me.
But, at least now I know who I’m really up against. And, I know just Who is really supposed to win here. So fair warning: I see you, and I’m doing my best to burn the list of names for good just so that you will no longer be able to hide behind them.
Just so we’re clear: That girl you hate, that girl you stole has been ransomed for by Someone Who Loves Her.
Haters, you’re gonna hate. I know that about you.
I’m just not going help you have your way with me any more.
A former hater
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12