Little Miss Sunshine

“…This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…

..don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”

My first memories of church are when I was about seven-years-old. I vividly recall my Sunday School teacher telling another adult that I was her little ray of sunshine. Does that make me the original “Little Miss Sunshine?”

Not to go off on a tangent, but if you didn’t see that movie, I highly recommend it. If you look past some of the language and subject matter, there’s a beautiful story of unconditional love and acceptance.

Okay, let’s get back on topic. As a little girl, I was bubbly and joyful. I was very friendly; didn’t know a stranger.  I loved everyone with all my heart, especially Jesus.   My light shone so brightly.

But, with time, life started to cause my light to flicker.

I have olive skin and as a child my complexion was pretty dark. Some kids in the neighborhood would tell me that I was a wetback ( I don’t approve of this word.  I’m only using it to relay actual events). I had no idea what that was. I asked my Mom. She tried to explain. I was even more confused….how could I be a wetback if I wasn’t from Mexico?

“You’re an ugly duckling”, my Grandmother told me. And so, I believed her.

I was different. I lived in a rough neighborhood, but my friends lived in the “rich” neighborhood. My mom sent me to school in dresses every day up until one day when I was in 4th grade.  The girls asked me, “Why do you always wear dresses to school?”  Well, my mom did try to rectify it when I told her I needed pants; jeans like the other kids.  She got me Sears toughskins.  That is NOT what I had in mind.  When all of the other girls were playing with their Lemon Twist, I was skipping over a Footsie.

In sixth grade, I had a bottom locker. I was crouched down at my locker getting books or something when the boy whose locker was above mine yelled, “Get out of my way! Move!” as he repeatedly kicked me. He felt his actions were justified because his dad was a dentist and made good money. However, I lived on the wrong side of the tracks.  A girl whom I’d known since 1st grade, was standing there waiting on him to get what he needed from his locker. She couldn’t believe her eyes and chided the boy to stop. But, I felt abandoned when she left me there, and walked off with him.  Her actions were almost as hurtful as his.

My Dad worked a lot and wasn’t home much. When he was home, he was distant except when he disciplined us. What I mostly felt from my Dad during my preteen years was disapproval.

But there were some positive influences too.  My closest friends’ parents treated me with dignity.   They invited me over to their houses to play, and to vacation bible school, and included me on family trips.  They drove into my neighborhood to pick me up when others wouldn’t come near it.  I can still name those handful of people.  I’m so glad God placed them in my life.  If it weren’t for them, my light would have completely gone out before I was ten years old.

If I were to write a letter to my young self, I would let her know that she isn’t alone.   I’d tell her not to be afraid.  I would want her to know that she is precious.  That her grandmother was wrong; she’s not an ugly duckling.  I’d tell her that even though it doesn’t feel like it, her Dad loves her more than life itself.  That when she walks into a room, his eyes light up.  When she hurts, he hurts.  And that he’s so proud of her.  I’d want her to know that it is okay to be different; blending in isn’t God’s plan for her.  I’d want her to know that this isn’t the end of her story.

And friends, that’s about all I can write without breaking down in tears.  Writing about the experiences and people that shaped me is more painful than I realized it would be.  It’s like I’m there again, but this time my perspective is different.  It’s that of one who can see the whole picture.

The good thing about telling a story from your past is that you can see the benefit of having walked through water and gone through fire.  You know how it looks on the other side of the valley, and you’re all the wiser for it.

Before I go, I want you to know that I so appreciated your sweet, encouraging comments last week.  It meant the world to me.  I felt so understood, loved and accepted.  That’s the way it should be when you bare your soul.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Until next time,

Sharon

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After 17 years in an elementary classroom, Mrs. Hines retired from teaching to pursue her passions: decorating, writing and homemaking. While her formal education is in teaching, she discovered her talent for design at a young age and is a self-taught decorator. Mrs. Hines' DIY spirit has earned her appearances on the show Deals which airs on the Live Well Network. She continues to teach and inspire on her popular Lifestyle blog, Mrs. Hines' Class. Homemaking is Mrs. Hines' first love. So, when she isn't decorating or writing, you can find her at home watching television with Mr. Hines or trying to keep up with her teenaged daughter.

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Comments

  1. Sharon… Your email popped into my mailbox a little while ago and even though I was about to grab a cup of coffee to offset a sporadic and restless night’s sleep, I felt compelled to sit right here and read it. (as well as the posts leading up to it) My heart is aching for the little girl from the wrong side of the tracks, but it’s also rejoicing for the strong, blessed woman who wrote this post. I know it had to be very, very difficult to put your heart and soul out there to the world, but like the others who commented on the previous post, I hope you do continue to tell your story. There’s so much more that I could say, but I don’t want to fill up your comments with a small novel. ;~) I truly believe that as hard as it might be to return to those places and times that were so painful, the healing that’s possible as a result of sharing your story could be immeasurable. For you and for others. Thank you so much for sharing your shining light. ~Mary

  2. (((Sharon))) Thanks for sharing your story – it’s what’s made you the special person you are today. Keep letting that light shine!

    God Bless,
    Angie

  3. Sharon,
    People don’t realize that kids remember everything – and it shapes their lives. You turned into the fabulous person you are today because of your experiences. So sorry you had to go through that though. I can still remember the mean things kids did and said to me – some of my most vivid memories are these – not the good things that happened. It just takes one bad thing to wash away 100 good ones. Thanks for sharing.
    Kelly

  4. i am so very curious to also know about how many of those in the cliques also had some of these experiences but had a different sort of coping mechanism to keep things appearing to be smooth sailing. your story with the hurt is so relateable even though every detail is not the same.Thank God there are what appears to be Angels sent into our lives to help us onto a saving path. Does everyone have those folks and some recognize them and take advantage of the gift but others cannot get past the anger or whatever to recognize this gift???

  5. That is a very good question. I think, unfortunately, many don’t get past the anger and live life as a victim.

  6. Very true, Kelly. Looking back reminded me of how destructive bullying is. It took me writing this post to be able to see the good that came out of those experiences. I can honestly say the good far outweighs the negative. I can look back and see God’s providence and protection. That is truly overwhelming. It’s because of those experiences that I can experience empathy and compassion.

  7. Thank you, Angie. I really value your encouragement and support.

  8. Mary, truer words were never spoken. When I first felt like I should be writing this story, I hoped for the healing and encouragement of others. When I wrote this post, I realized how powerful sharing my story is going to be in my own healing. Healing that I didn’t necessarily realize I needed. And that causes me to look at God and see how great He is. I thank you for reading this morning even though you were exhausted, and for taking the time to encourage me. I feel very blessed by your words.

  9. shirley@housepitalitydesigns says:

    Kids will always be cruel…no matter what day and age…It’s the adults who have no excuse…I am so sorry you had to go through this…obviously it has made you into a great person…inside and out…I see “no ugly duckling”…!!!…and a life filled with many blessings!

  10. Sharon, You hit a nerve here. I can totally realte to this post. I had a rough childhood too, alcoholic Mom, Dad died when I was 4, lived with my Garndmother and Aunt, lots of chaos. I could write a book too. BUT, I found Al-Anon and it has changed my life and allowed me to heal too. It continues to be “a gift I give myself”. You are a strong and beautiful woman. Thanks so much for your honesty and sharing your story. Love, Pinky

  11. Thank you for your kind words and support, Shirley.

  12. and I thank you for your honesty, Pinky. I’m so glad you found Al-Anon and have experienced healing. xo

  13. susanlivingrichonless says:

    Sharon, thanks for sharing this. I wasn’t exactly Miss Popular myself. My family never had much money and, as I’m sure you know, that can be difficult to hide from ruthless peers. Isn’t it amazing how those bad feelings never quite go away? They keep saying, “You are still that nobody girl who won’t fit in. You’ll never make anything of yourself.” We need to stop listening to those voices!

  14. So glad to hear from you! Thank you for sharing with me, Susan. It’s the “you don’t fit in” voice that I hear most often. You’re right…we need to stop listening to those voices.

  15. my parents were more frugal than lacking. we lived in a modest home and my mother was a fantastic seamstress but obviously did not have all the bells and whistles. The interesting expeerience was that the daughter of the richest man in town befriended me and enjoyed being in our home AND was the least catty in school. Those who were the tackiest were the ones on the fringe economically.

  16. Brenda, the ironic thing about me living on the wrong side of the tracks is that my Dad had a successful business…and by the time I was in Jr. High School he was wealthy. However, like yours, my parents were very practical and frugal. My parents didn’t see the point in buying us designer clothes that we would outgrow in just a few months. I think both of our experiences make the point that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Thanks for joining in the conversation….I love a good dialogue!

  17. My heart broke reading this, but I am so glad that you have triumphed over the trials of your childhood. You are beautiful both inside and out! The world is lucky to have a person like you.

  18. Thank you, Kim. I’m touched by your compassion. And I really appreciate the kind words. You made my day.

  19. Sharon, this was so touching. Those are rough times indeed. Times and memories that shape and mold who we are today. Kids were mean back then and still can be. We don’t see a whole lot of bullying here or harsh words, which I am grateful for..as those stick with you for life. I had a few mean boys to me too…they told me I had a big NOSE. At the time it bothered me, and in fact I had an opportunity later on in life to get surgery. I chose not to..because I don’t have a big nose, I like my nose, and I came to realize they just were mean spirited boys. Your a really pretty lady, and have a wonderful spirit and awesome family.

  20. Thank you, Debbie! You’re very kind. And the affirmations mean the world to me.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Last week I shared some of the cruelties of my childhood, but left off saying that there were some positive experiences too. Today, we’re going to hear more about those; the fond memories. […]

  2. […] have no doubt that my childhood influenced my decision to go into teaching. I wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of […]

  3. […] days, I find myself giddy with joy, much like the bubbly little girl who sang “Oh, How I Love Jesus” with all of her heart.  I’ve learned to trust […]

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