So I was fat in middle school.
Like really fat. In 7th grade, I weighed an astonishing 240 pounds at 5'4. I had a lot of shapeliness going on and was tired of girls only wanting to be my friend. I can't count the number of times I asked a girl out and her response was, "But Zach, I don't want to ruin our friendship." Here's the actual translation:
"Zach, you are sweet, but you also eat a lot of sweets, so dating isn't going to happen until I can actually fit my arms around you."
So in High School, I was over it and did a crash diet. I ate basically nothing for a year and dropped down to 170 pounds and grew about 6 inches. All of sudden, girls were noticing me and I was PUMPED. Eventually, I went from the humble little boy to a cocky 16-year old that thought he was sweeter than a king-sized Reeses cup.
I wasn't sweet or nice anymore. I turned into a total jackass to my parents and my friends. I pushed everyone around me down so that I could lift myself up. I wanted everyone to look at me and how great I was. I became a bully without even knowing it.
It wasn't until I showed up to a birthday party for one of my best friends in middle school that I realized how bad it had gotten. He pulled me aside and said, "I didn't want you here. You're a total ass, but my parents made me invite you."
Yep. It was a real winning moment.
In my attempt to better myself, I hadn't noticed how much I was hurting other people. My friend wasn't the only one who felt that way. It was a basic theme shared by my parents, my sisters, my friends, and every girl I dated.
I was hurting them and they still remember it.
How could this happen? I just wanted to not be bullied, fat or ignored anymore by people. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be important. I wanted to feel valued. In that process, I left a trail of scars, bruises, and memories that I wish I could forget.
It makes me think about the story of Jonah. If you aren't familiar, Jonah is a man in the Bible that ran away from God to do his own thing. We usually think about him getting swallowed by a fish, whale, or something else. That's not what I want to talk about though.
After God called him to go to a place called Nineveh, He got on a boat with a group of people that literally carried him the opposite way God had asked him to go. During this boat ride, God caused a storm. A big storm. (The thought of drowning freaks me out just writing this.)
Read this in Jonah 1:5, because we tend to overlook it.
"All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship."
The people started throwing everything they had overboard.
Their possessions. Their means for income. Everything. All because of Jonah.
Now, Jonah eventually comes to himself and throws himself overboard to stop the storm, but none of the losses are restored. Jonah's impact on their life was catastrophic.
In my opinion, I don't think Jonah was trying to ruin their lives. I also don't think any of us wake up and decide to hurt people, but we do.
Our intentions are usually fair, but our impact can leave some serious wounds.
Sometimes, I wonder how many scars people carry from the decisions I've made. Have you ever thought about that? It's a little unsettling.
When someone does something that hurts us, we very rarely care about their intentions. If someone wrecked their car into yours, I doubt you care at all about what led to it. All you care about is how you are going to get to work. It's the impact we remember, not the intention.
However, when we measure our decisions, we remember our intentions, not the impact we had on those around us. We need to change this.
Our world is a mess right now. As of writing this, people are storming the Capital Building with the intention of being helpful. However, their impact is causing fear, pain, and panic.
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone wants it their way. We care more about getting our thought across than we do at the wounds our words cause. We care more about being right than we do about making things right.
I know the intention is good, but the impact can be detrimental. We have to think beyond ourselves and see people. And I mean REALLY see them and how we could be hurting them and better yet, how we can help them.
I'm still learning this and I want to invite you to learn with me. Let's be people that fight for each other, not just with each other. Let's have conversations and look to understand and not just be understood.
We can be better.