Country Pastor Column: I'll call her Natalie
Natalie is pretty. She is super smart. She is funny and electric with energy.
They started picking on her at age 12; boys, but mostly girls. Was it because she walked funny? She wears leg braces. Doctors say she has a life expectancy of 46.
They circulated a petition for her to kill herself. They call her an "attention whore." Someone hit her in the face with a used condom in front of other kids.
She cut herself to feel alive from the adrenalin rush. She made lists of people who might miss her if she was gone. She was mad at the person who stopped her from jumping off a bridge near River Falls. She was in weekly therapy for five years.
But her school had a retreat for eighth graders. Two brave abusers came forward and admitted to tormenting her. They said they didn't know why; they just followed a bullying leader. Natalie forgave them all. "I'm forgiving you for me so it won't eat me up inside."
Her parents don't believe in God but support her going to church. There, she hears, "You are a work of art." She says, "I love people so much." She has experienced "redemption." She says the most important thing to do is, "bring love into the world."
Natalie is graduating at 17. She is waiting to hear if she is accepted into Harvard.
Some people have found her on the internet and still write her horrible things.
Jesus said, "Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about." - Matthew 7:12