She Clapped for Me
By Lindsay Tedder
“Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9
I know that I am overweight. It’s not some secret I try to conceal with contouring makeup or flawless fashion. I do not avoid mirrors. I know what size my pants are. It is safe to say that if I know that I am overweight, then I know the people whom I encounter aren’t shocked at this news, either. Weight is visible. In reality, though I know that I am overweight, I am also one of the most confident people you’ve ever met. Seriously. I smile at everyone (almost) and I’m consistently laughing. My weight has never dictated how I interact with people or even how I had felt about myself… until she clapped for me.
It was summer, it was hot, and my friends and I lived at the pool at my mom’s house. Whenever it was a sunny weekend day, you could be guaranteed to see all of our friends lounging around soaking up the rays or splashing around playing volleyball. One gorgeous Saturday afternoon we were all hanging out and relaxing by the pool and chatting about what was going on in our lives. Thinking nothing of it, I mentioned that I bought a bike. As in a bicycle, you know, like the ones we rode the neighborhoods with as children.
My words were muffled by her clapping. My mind started racing. Wait, what is happening? Why is she clapping? Did I miss someone else’s good news? Oh, no. That’s for me. She is clapping for me. Why? I don’t understand. Oh…I get it now. The FAT girl bought a bike and the skinny girl is clapping. Ouch. Dear Lord, please help me not punch her in the throat.
My thoughts collided in my brain like they were bouncing through a whirlpool. I felt hot. I was angry. But most of all I was embarrassed and sad. Not since elementary school had someone seen my weight as a hindrance. Not since elementary school had I been made to feel like I was “less than” because of my weight. I couldn’t believe it. This woman, who called herself a friend, was clapping at the thought of me purchasing a bicycle.
She continued on and said “I’m just so proud of you!” What? Proud of me? Just as my facial expression must have been shouting “Is this chic for real?"
Suddenly, another close friend popped her face in front of mine so it was all that I could see. “Can you help me make a drink in the kitchen?” I locked eyes with her and held it until I was clear of the judgmental pride I had induced in my so-called friend.
A few weeks later, I decided to share my hurt at this situation with my proud “friend.” Her response was a “sorry, not sorry” type of apology, which the enemy tried to use to fuel the fire of anger that I had felt initially.
The Word above says to “love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult.” I will tell you with raw honesty, that I did not feel like being compassionate or humble in that moment. I sure as heck didn’t feel like loving her. And I most definitely wanted to repay insult for insult. After years, yes…years, of reflection on this moment, I can honestly say that I now forgive her. Honestly. I can see through her comments and realize that she too has hurt in her life.
Hurt people, hurt people.
But our God heals the hurt. Our God loves each of us (even our frenemies) with a love that outshines anything we could ever do to screw it up. Though this woman was not being compassionate or humble, my responsibility is not to her but to the God I serve. I am responsible to shine His light into even the darkest and scariest places. I am only responsible for my reactions to situations, not the situations themselves.
If my priority is my vertical relationship with Christ, then my horizontal relationships with everyone around me will be far stronger because I will be full of Him and will not have to rely on my own strength and goodwill to maintain those relationships.
Let Him direct your steps and your words. Where are you hurting? Who hurt you? Don’t let this hurt consume you! Drop it at the feet of the King and ask Him to supersede on your behalf. And next time someone hurls an insult at you, you will be far greater prepared to smile instead of repay insult with insult.
Lindsay Tedder is a believer, wife, mom, bestie and writer who lives in Columbus, Ohio with her bearded, bourbon-loving husband and her too-cool-for-school toddler. Raised by a hardworking single mom, she overcame such trauma as sexual abuse induced food addiction, the debilitating health issues associated with endometriosis, a decade of infertility, and recurring life themes of worthlessness. Despite it all, Lindsay is a ray of light, always sharing His love wherever she goes.
Originally published Wednesday, 28 September 2022.