Junior College (JC) wasn’t exactly the best time for me.
Some of my classmates used to mock me along with two of my friends. Strangely, they called us “The Holy Trinity” even though I was the only Christian.
Back then, I never really thought of myself as a “super spiritual Christian”. I also wasn’t particularly outspoken about my faith.
I don’t even remember sharing the gospel with any of my classmates or even on my social media, save for the Bible verse IG Stories I posted once in a blue moon.
So I was baffled when I found out that I was being mocked for being too Jesus-y.
The only thing I could attribute this to was the visible difference in the way I behaved.
I didn’t do much though — just listening intently in class and not playing truant.
Compared to what the rest were doing, it probably made me seem like a goody-two-shoes, though that wasn’t what I was trying to be.
I just did what I did out of respect for the teachers. I felt that my duty as a student was to work hard for good grades too.
Nevertheless, this low-key bullying made me seriously detest going to school.
I also felt terrible for my two friends who were being mocked with this Christian label because of me.
The ostracising got pretty bad, to the point where even some teachers noticed it and called the class out, telling them to be more inclusive.
I was grateful for the teachers who tried to stand up for us, but at the same time my pride was hurt because it meant that the isolation was obvious enough for them to have realised it.
It was even more hurtful because I didn’t have any bad blood with the scoffers nor had I knowingly done something to offend them.
Though it was a painful experience, it taught me so many things I probably wouldn’t have learnt otherwise.
Here are just 4 things I’d like to share.
Know your worth
For two years in JC, I wrestled with feelings of isolation and rejection. I had never felt so alone in my life.
Being so excluded, I likened myself to a white rock in the midst of a sea of colourful rocks. I couldn’t fit in because I was too dull and boring, not vibrant or exciting like the rest.
But sometime later, God gave me a vision.
It was of a clamshell opening up underwater, revealing a luminescent white pearl inside that reflected the sunlight above the surface.
I was in awe at the beautiful picture, but slightly puzzled about the meaning. Subsequently, it dawned upon me that the vision was a metaphorical one.
The closed shell at the start was reflective of my self-defence mechanism, of me closing up my heart to others and subconsciously God too, for fear of being hurt again.
But God reminded me that I needed to open up my heart to receive His love, which was as boundless as the ocean surrounding the shell.
Instead of being a white rock, He showed me that I was a white pearl. Though I felt worthless, I was precious in His sight. He reminded me that His love was more than enough for me.
As I opened up to receive His love, I slowly found the courage to also open up my heart to others and reflect His love to them.
Find your support system
For the entire two years I was in JC, I was almost a non-existent member in my church’s youth group. I wasn’t particularly close to anyone in the ministry and thought I wouldn’t be able to integrate.
Having had enough of being excluded in school, I really didn’t want to face a second round in church.
But now that I’m back in the youth group, I realise that instead of running away from them, I should have been running to them!
Not having much spiritual support back then left me feeling isolated. I felt like I was fighting this battle alone, and it was difficult to soldier on without wanting to give up.
Thankfully, God was faithful to provide a handful of Christian friends in school from other classes whose encouragement really helped me to press on.
And now that I have a spiritual community in church, I can really see the difference it has made in my walk with God.
They encourage me to be bold in the faith and to continue to stand for God even in hostile environments.
I can say with conviction that having good spiritual community is so vital.
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
Godly spiritual community is such an underrated blessing!
If you lack this, I encourage you to pray for God to send you good spiritual friends who will journey alongside you.
Take the first step to forgive
I never got to reconcile with those who had hurt me since we went our separate ways after graduation.
But as I grew closer to God, He showed me that this unforgiveness was one area of sin in my life.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
It wasn’t as if I hadn’t hurt others before, intentionally or not.
And as I too have been forgiven much by God, I had to learn to extend that same grace and forgive others.
In fact, not only does Jesus call us to forgive our enemies — He calls us to take another step further to love them.
While I wouldn’t consider those who mocked me as my enemies, frankly, I did harbour feelings of anger and resentment towards them.
Forgiving is difficult enough. Loving someone who has hurt you? Even more so.
But Jesus too, before He died, asked His Father to forgive the very ones who had crucified him.
The kind of love and grace it must have taken for Jesus to say that is incredible. That’s something we can all learn from!
Be bold, be brave
It doesn’t always take something big like posting an unpopular Biblical opinion for cancel culture to come for you.
Though I wasn’t outright cancelled, it just goes to show that regardless of what you do, there will always be people who don’t like you because of Jesus.
Even Jesus Himself was innocent, and yet He was accused and delivered up to be crucified by the very people He came to save.
Compared to the hurt Jesus must have been through, mine was really nothing.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
The Bible clearly warns us that following Jesus means we will receive some sort of hate. However, all that matters is that we have a clear conscience before God.
While we shouldn’t be deliberately causing drama, being people-pleasing isn’t going to work — it’s not possible for everybody to be happy with you!
Though it wasn’t nice to be mocked, I learnt to see it as a spiritual compliment because at least it meant that others were seeing a difference in the way I lived.
Furthermore, I reasoned that if I was already being ostracised for not doing anything, it couldn’t really get that much worse if I opened up to share about my faith.
Instead of being fearful of judgement, I held my ground and became bolder in openly testifying for Christ.
Hence, these experiences helped me to grow.
In addition to striving to steward my responsibilities well for God, I now love sharing and posting about how He has been so real in my life on my personal social media account!
As Christians, Jesus calls us to be lights in this world.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Don’t hide God’s light in you — let it shine!
While we shouldn’t go about witnessing in a provocative way, the gospel is beautiful and not something that we should be ashamed of.
Having been through this painful experience in JC, I would not wish it upon on anyone.
Nevertheless, I believe it is inevitable that at some point, we will have to pay the price of following Jesus.
If we have to lose friendships, relationships and possibly even big opportunities, are we willing to bear the cost of discipleship?
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Though it means I may have to go through the fire again, my answer remains the same — yes.
Even if we have to suffer for the sake of Christ, be it in the small or big things, may we learn to be bold witnesses for Him!
- Have you been made fun of because of your faith?
- What are some things that living out your faith will cost you?
- How can you learn to be bold and unashamed of your faith?