Dear World Changer,
In today’s society, “haters” have become so normalized. We hear about dealing with haters in songs and media, “haters gonna hate” or however it goes. This doesn’t change the fact that when faced with a hater, it hurts when they attack something close to you.
When I was in elementary school, people used to call me names. They would say things like church girl, Jesus freak, or holy kid. I never got invited to sleepovers on a Saturday night because they knew I would have to leave super early for church the next day.
When the kids played truth or dare on the playground, I was never included because they thought I was “too innocent” or “too holy” to participate in all the games. People would get freaked out when I knew all the words to the service we held in the gymnasium, I was even more ridiculed when I was an alter server during the service and the pastor knew me by name.
People would ask me why I believe in this. They tried to argue against what I believed. They didn’t believe in religion and they were so grateful their parents never “forced” them to go. However, I really grew from that experience. Along the way I learned some things that helped me deal with the haters.
1. Stick to your values! If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I was really rooted in my faith with Jesus then. I went to church happily, I even volunteered there willingly. If people hated on me or tried to argue against me and I wasn’t sticking to my beliefs, then I could’ve easily crumbled under the pressure and started to side with them. They could’ve won, but because of my strong relationship with Jesus,I was able to hold my own ground.
2. Stay on the defense, never the offense. You’re allowed to share your faith, in fact that is encouraged. However, don’t attack them for not believing. If I had started to ridicule them back then for not believing, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. They would have been pushed further from Christianity. Also, when you give bullies a reaction, you’re giving them the satisfaction of upsetting you.
3. Knowledge is power. Often, people judge what they don’t know or don’t understand. If you have the opportunity to have a conversation about it, then share your faith. The more people that know about Him, the more understanding and accepting the world can become.
4. Invite them. I wish I belonged to a youth group back then so that I could invite them out so they can see for themselves what I believe in. When movies and media paint a boring picture of the church, it was hard for me to get my friends to come out. So I encourage you to bring your haters out to youth group so they can see what it’s like before they choose to judge it.
5. Pray for them. God calls us to love everyone, even our enemy. So show them kindness, even on the hard days. Pray over them that they can come to know Him and that they can find the kindness in their hearts to stop treating people poorly.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10: 32-33 NIV
At the end of the day, it’s your faith. It is a part of who you are. You shouldn’t be embarrassed over it, you shouldn’t be embarrassed over Jesus and how awesome He is. Embrace it regardless of what people think. Never try to push it aside to get people to like you, make sure your friends like you for who are, a Christian.