NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–I couldn’t believe it. How could those guys be so mean?
It was my sophomore year of high school, and it was time to vote for our class officers and class favorites. I had heard some boys snickering by the lockers about what a great joke it would be if they could get everyone to vote for Cecil Humphreys* for class favorite. Somehow they had succeeded. Cecil’s name was announced over the intercom as the sophomore class favorite boy.
Cecil’s family was poor. He came to school dirty and rumpled. He had a learning disability, so he was in a special education class most of the day. He walked with a slump. He was like an unwanted leftover in the refrigerator of high school. Certainly, he had done nothing to deserve getting picked on, but these guys — the good-looking athletes who always sat at the “cool table,” the boys with nice homes and clothes — had tagged Cecil as the brunt of their joke.
You see, everyone knew who our class favorite girl would be, the lovely and sweet Rachel Edwards. The boys wanted her to have to get her picture made with Cecil. It was so funny to them! And here’s the thing: Intellectually, Cecil had developmental delays. I’m not sure if Cecil realized that he was the punch line of a very sick joke. But what if he had? Whatever the case, I do know those boys knew full well what they had done. So why did they do it?
Christian psychologist James Dobson says that most teens feel inferior when it comes to three areas: looks, intelligence and money. Cecil wasn’t up to par in any of those areas. The boys who pulled the prank, however, were quite adequate. But evidently, they didn’t feel that way. They felt inferior. They felt so bad about themselves that they took comfort in calling attention to someone who was even worse off.
They felt ugly. In their minds, Cecil was uglier.
They felt like they weren’t very smart. To them, Cecil was an idiot.
They felt deprived because they didn’t have all the “stuff” they wanted. Cecil, though, was as poor as dirt.
If only those guys had known, believed, and accepted what God wanted them to know — about themselves and about Cecil, too. Do your kids know what God says about them? Tell them:
God says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, whether or not you make the team (Psalm 139:14).
God says that you are chosen, holy and dearly loved, whether or not you have the approval of people (Colossians 3:12).
God says that you are His child, and you look like your Father, even with your teenage skin and awkward body (I John 3:1-2).
God says that you are accepted because of your faith in Jesus Christ, whether or not you feel accepted by other people (Galatians 2:16).
God says that you are wealthy because He will meet all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ (Philippians 4:19).
I suspect each of those young men wanted to be class favorite boy. Rather than be nominated and lose the vote, they chose to control the election. In doing this, they wouldn’t have to deal with rejection or loss if they didn’t get the nod. Instead, it was all a joke, and they could go home laughing, their self esteem “intact.”
What about Cecil?
Cecil, child-like Cecil, arrived on picture day in an ill-fitting three-piece suit, and he got his picture made with Rachel Edwards. But he didn’t smile.
*Names have been changed. Rebecca Ingram Powell is a pastor’s wife, mother of three and author and speaker. Adapted from “Dig Deep: Unearthing the Treasures of Solomon’s Proverbs,” a Bible study for teen guys by Rebecca Ingram Powell (Pleasant Word). Visit www.rebeccapowell.com for more information.