The first time I can assuredly say I remember hearing about the club was in 5th grade. They could have very well been in existence before that, but that was the first time I caught on to it. It was summer so school wasn’t even in session. Our town has a small Bible day camp that many of the kids from school went to. There was a new boy in attendance this year. He was without a doubt the cutest boy in the whole camp. Imagine my surprise when he took notice of me? I started receiving little notes from him throughout the day, and I couldn’t have been happier.
In all honesty, I can’t remember his name now. I just know he was very tan with dark hair and brown eyes. He was adorable, and I felt very lucky. Our summer romance blossomed when I received a note saying that he liked a girl in the camp but wasn’t sure if he should tell her.
“TELL HER!” I wrote back. “Our biggest regret one day will be the words we didn’t say.”
Naturally I was confident that he was going to write down that the girl was me. After all I didn’t see him passing any other girls notes throughout the summer. He always played with me at break time, and even the other girls were starting to notice.
“It’s you,” he wrote, confirming my thoughts. The other boys who he hung out with started teasing us but I didn’t care. I liked him, and he liked me, that was all that mattered. It was a beautiful summer that we spent together. Sun kissed days spent playing games, swimming in the pool, and making crafts. It was my very own fairytale and this time I wasn’t making it up with my pen and paper through vivid imagination and storytelling. I was living a dream; a real one.
The summer went by far too quickly as summers often do. The last day of camp finally came and it was hard to get out of bed. His mother was just in town to take a class at the towns University. At the end of the summer, she and he were going back where they came from. The days had gone without any hiccups or bad moments.
On the last day of camp, he told me to meet him by this giant willow tree at some point throughout the day. I wasn’t sure what exactly we were meeting about. Perhaps he wanted to send me off with one last love letter. I went to meet him at the specified time.
“Maybe we are going to carve our initials into the tree?” I thought to myself.
As I got to the willow tree I saw him in the distance. Standing beside him was a group of his friends. I wasn’t sure what they were doing there, but strength in numbers I suppose. As I got closer I realized they all were laughing. Here I was, one 10-year-old girl standing by myself, facing 4 or 5 laughing 10-year-old boys. I started to feel uneasy. My cheeks got hot but I kept breathing in and out and kept my feet walking forward.
“What’s so funny?” I asked trying not to show how intimidated I really was.
“You,” the ringleader of the boys responded. He went to school with me and was in my same class. We had our altercations before, but for the most part, him and I got along, or so I thought. I certainly didn’t understand what was going on right now.
“Why me?” I asked, my voice softer now as I stood waiting for what I was sure was about to be the most embarrassing moment of my entire life.
“You thought he liked you this whole time. We think that is funny,” He said.
I looked at the boy I had spent my entire summer having a crush on. I searched his eyes and I didn’t see laughter, just blankness. He stood there with them, staring at me but not saying a word.
“What do you mean?” I heard myself say before I could stop it. I should have just turned around and walked away right there but for whatever reason things were happening so fast and in slow motion all at the same time. I couldn’t really get a grasp on what was happening. It was like I was standing there watching myself from the outside. Everything seemed blurry and unfamiliar.
“We played a joke on you. We told him to tell you he liked you and you fell for it. He doesn’t like you.” The same ringleader responded. All the boys were laughing hysterically now, all of them but one. My crush just stood there almost afraid to move. He wasn’t really looking at me anymore; he was looking down, around at his friends, or up at the sky, never at me. I hated him at that moment. I hated all of them.
“I don’t care.” I said back. It was the only thing I could think of. With that I walked away, never to see my summer crush again. Unfortunately I did have to see the other boys again when 5th grade started a mere few weeks later. My summer romance was still making its way in and out of conversation.
“I just don’t see why they would do that?” I confided to my best girlfriend in the class. She was so pretty. She was brown like I was, clearly mixed with a couple different races but she didn’t know which ones because she was adopted. The boys often made lists of who the prettiest girls in the class were and would post it where all the kids got their coats or on the girls bathroom door. Her name was always near the top. Jewel Jones.
In all honesty she looked a lot like me, just the better version. I don’t remember Jewel ever going through any awkward buck teeth phases. Her hair always looked great too. Mine was huge and tangled. My mom was always trying to put it in one braid but she curled my bangs that hung in the front of my face upwards, because she thought I looked cute like that. Well she was the only one. All the other kids made fun of my terrible hair constantly. Eventually I didn’t let her do my hair anymore. I did it myself though I wasn’t much better than she was. There is only so much you can do when your hair naturally falls as if it was just in a windstorm. But at least I saved myself the embarrassment of having bangs that were curled upward.
I ran around a lot at recess and that never helped my hair lay down. I would sometimes have it nice when I showed up for school in the morning, but by the afternoon it was a beehive. I hated my hair.
“I heard they have a club and that’s why they did it.” Jewel responded. She was honestly probably the best friend I ever had. She genuinely loved me and cared about me. She stood up for me when kids made fun of me, and always told me who I could and couldn’t trust. She is still my friend to this day.
“What do you mean a club?” I asked sincerely confused.
“I heard they made an ‘I Hate Heather Club’…” she said checking my eyes to see if I would make it through this devastating news.
“They have an ‘I hate Heather club?’” I asked almost needing to hear myself say the words aloud in order to believe them.
“I guess.” She said. “But who cares. Boys are dumb!” she was trying to make me feel better. Of course she would say that. There was not an ‘I hate Jewel club’, and even if there was, her name was still at the very top on the list of the prettiest girls in the classroom. She would not understand the agony that her poofy haired comrade was going through. It just wasn’t in the cards for her.
And that is how I found out about the ‘I hate Heather Club. Now I still can’t tell you why they formed such a club, or how many members it had. Apparently since there were at least 4 boys standing at the willow that day, I can be certain that they had at least 4 members. Later I found out it was a mix of boys and girls in the club, so we can be sure it wasn’t gender bias. I also do not know for sure how many years this club was in existence. I know certainly 5th grade, but I have caught bits and pieces of rumors about the club, some stating that its existence went back to the 1st grade. At any rate they were very secretive, and I could never know just who was in the club at any appointed time. I also never knew if what was happening in my life was happening because it was genuinely happening, or what the club members were instigating for another good laugh.
In my life, I haven’t always felt like the smartest, the prettiest, or the most talented girl in the room. Life was hard at 10 years old, and I can assure you at 26, that it doesn’t get much easier. There are always going to be ‘Goliaths’. There are always going to be giant moments that make you feel really small. The key to moving forward, the key to not letting terrible days, mean kids, or a club that hates you not cause you to lose all hope, is to find rest in the arms of the Savior. There have been days that I literally felt like God may be the only friend I had, but the more I got to know Him, the more I realized that His friendship was the only one that mattered. The closer I became to understanding the love and power of Christ, the more my faith grew, and the more my faith grew, the more my strength grew. Problems can become giants if you let them, but I serve a God who takes out giants with nothing but a few pebbles and a sling. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel for Him. Trust me, He really is that good.
In 1 Samuel 17:33 David has just told Saul that he plans to fight Goliath, and Saul responds by saying this, “Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
Saul allowed this giant life-sized problem, to shake his faith . I love what David says in verses 34-37. He responds to Saul by saying, “But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
You see in his present situation, instead of questioning whether or not God would show up, David remembered what happened when he was 10 years old and standing under a willow tree. He remembered all the other sleepless nights, tear-stained pillows, bears and lions that he had faced, and how God had seen him through. That’s the beauty of days you swear you will never live through; you do live through them, and when you do, you wake up stronger.
And so now when I think about the ‘I hate Heather club,’ I smile. I smile because it reminds of yet another time in my life where it may have felt like God was my only friend, but was also the only friend that mattered. I’ve heard it said, “don’t run and tell God about your big problems, rather, tell your problems, about your big God.”
God is big. He is bigger than the job you lost, bigger than the money that you don’t have, and bigger than a pack of 10-year-old boys laughing while you want to cry. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
You see it’s ok to be small. It’s ok to be weak, and it’s ok not to be perfect. His grace is sufficient for even us, and so therefore we should boast in our weakness!
At least in my life, these tough moments have caused me to cling to the feet of a really big God, because sometimes the best way to measure just how powerful God really is, is by standing Him next to one of your giants.
To order Heather’s devotional Cracked Glasses copy and paste the following link into your browser: http://www.adventistbookcenter.com/cracked-glasses.html