There she was, running around the house, barefoot and full of bouncy joy. Dinah always had an enjoyable time when she had the chance to spend time with her grandmother.
Grandparents always seem to go above and beyond what’s required to make their little grandchildren happy. And unlike her mom who made it a steady routine of breaking up the party when she was in the midst of fun, grandma liked to satisfy Dinah’s whims by simply letting her get away with having extra added fun.
You could tell right away that Dinah had a passion for life. She had the sweetest personality but a fragile heart. She got offended by the littlest things; even mistakes. Like for instance, if she dropped something by accident, she was all in tears and hurt emotionally. Or if there was a moment when she wanted to share a joke with Grandpa Mike and he couldn’t attend to her right away, she would erupt in tears.
She spent an adequate time trying to learn about all the things around her. She was the most curious little thing, always searching for answers. But when it was time to get some work done, she would throw a tantrum.
It was in the midst of fall when all the falling leaves land in the front of your house. The colorful autumn foliage is so picturesque and pulchritudinous to the eyes. But despite, the beauty of fall, someone had to do the messy work of cleaning them up.
Garbage day would have been the next day and so while she was staying with her grandparents, Grandma Mable said, “hey Dinah, could you come and help me to sweep and gather the leaves from the front of the house?”
Dinah cried and complained until she couldn’t anymore and then as the tears died, she got up to do the task that was set up for her.
She came outside and started sweeping up the leaves and while she was doing it, some kids that were walking by laughed at her and made some mean remarks about the way that she was dressed.
“Woo hoo. Look at that little old lady with the house dress cleaning the leaves.”
“Lol! That is the ugliest dress I have ever seen.”
“Not as ugly as her stupid face.”
Dinah was so hurt by their comments, that she started to cry and ran inside.
Grandma Mable ran in after her and said, “listen, those kids are just poking fun. You don’t need to take it so seriously.”
“Everybody makes fun of the way I dress. My friends at school say that I dress weird.”
“Lol! That isn’t true Dinah. You dress very nice and you are such a beautiful girl. You should cheer up.”
“Grandma, has anyone ever talked about you and hurt your feelings? Don’t you ever cry when they say mean things?
“Oh Dinah. I think we all have faced situations similar to yours.”
“Oh, please tell me.”
“My life has never been a perfect road.”
“What do you mean Grandma?”
“Well, I always managed to somehow take a wrong turn, no matter how the navigation system was set up for me.”
“Yes, Dinah. So many things came along that disrupted the momentum of me doing what I was meant to do in my life.”
“I don’t believe that Grandma. You are so inspiring to me. You are so successful and strong.”
“Yes, Dinah. I am strong. Now!
“But when I was your age, I was just like you.”
“For the most part, people were always criticizing me for something. My looks. My desires. The way I dressed. The way I looked. The way I spoke.”
“I used to feel so unimportant.”
“Aww, I’m sorry Grandma. You are important to me.”
“Thank you for that sweetheart.”
“I was like you because I used to let what people said, get to me. After some time, their ideas and perspectives about me had me paralyzed.”
“So, when I say you are stronger than the mean things they say, I mean it. Don’t let their negativity take over your spirit.”
“The things that people used to say about me made me harbor negative energy. Their words used to stay on my brain and make me feel wounded and undeserving of anything good.”
“I tried in every way to silence the cries inside. I can’t tell you how many times the spark left my eyes. It is almost like dying a small death when the small voice inside you just keeps telling you that you are nothing. It is almost like being barely able to breathe without thinking bad thoughts about yourself. My hopes were burnt to ashes. The fire of outrage almost consumed me. Being angry with the world was my way of rising up in rebellion to their heckling.”
“I have never seen you get angry grandma. Are you sure this is your story and you are not just telling me one?”
“Dinah. This is my truth. My spirit used to be heavy with doubt. But like a flower, an inspiring moment is as the water that brings it back to life before wilting away. Those inspiring moments made a dramatic transformation in me. I started to come out of my cocoon to spread my colorful butterfly wings. I started to see the world in a radically new way.”
“I started to gain the courage to sing a new song. Inspiration has a way of reaching out, grabbing you and saying you are more than enough.”
“Are you inspired yet young lady?”
“How come I never knew this about you before grandma?”
“Well. There comes a time in your life where you have to simply start the process of thinking positive thoughts and less about the things that left you bitter. And it is also important to know that after all the hurt and the pains that you may face in this world, you need to stitch up your wounds and keep it moving.”
“You are so blessed Dinah. Do you know that?”
“Yes, but people are always making fun of me.”
“Sometimes I am so sad that I do not want to go to school.”
“People will always make fun of someone that is different. You have unique qualities that they wish they had and so, they make fun of you.”
“But, instead of making a concentrated effort to try to be someone else, there is nothing better than being yourself. So, keep on chugging along, just the way that you are.” The world appears a bit different once you start applying confidence to your steps.”
“Yes Dinah! Along the way, I came to realize that other people’s thoughts are good, but they are not as important as how you feel about myself.
“It is important to walk by faith every day, otherwise, you will not be able to survive it all because there will always be a critic trying to get you believe the things they say. You may have been hurt by those mean kids but believe me when I say that you haven’t seen nothing yet.”
“You must find a way to not be disillusioned by the negative bantering of others.”
A FEW DAYS LATER
It was a beautiful morning and at about 7:30 AM, Natasha was all packed up and ready for work and called out for her daughter.
“Dinah, are you ready for school?”
“Don’t forget your sweater.”
Dinah ran down the steps and grabbed her bookbag and lunch box. She gave her father a big hug and kiss on the cheek and then her mother and she walked out the door.
“Have a good day Charlie.”
“You too Natasha.”
Natasha and Dinah loaded into their Nissan Altima and were on their way to the Pathfinders School. It was about a 3-mile drive away from their house.
While at a traffic light, Natasha turned on the car stereo and turned the radio dial to 880AM where they heard the report of the atmospheric temperature for the day going up to 70 degrees.
When they pulled up to the front of the school, Dinah felt a little embarrassed because all the other students were wearing summer clothes, but she had on a turtleneck, long jeans and the sweater that her mother made her carry.
She stepped out the car and walked into the front doors of the school.
She got to the locker and some of the passing students started to pop jokes.
“Where you going to the North Pole?
“Why is she dressed like an Eskimo?
“Lol! She probably wanted to cover up her ugliness?”
A tear started to flow out of Dinah’s eye, but then she remembered her grandmother’s story and stopped.
She grabbed her books for Algebra class, slammed her locker and ran to her class.
Dinah grabbed her usual desk and sat down.
“How was your weekend?”
“I spent it with Grandma. She is such a cool person. I really love her.”
Alright class. Everybody take out your books and turn to page 182.
“Dinah! Please read from the top of page 182.”
“Okay Miss Whaley?”
One of the boys in the class turned around and said, “she probably can’t because she doesn’t know how to read.”
“LOL! She is an idiot.”
Dinah said, “are you talking about your mother?”
That was the first time she had ever responded. Everyone was so surprised by her words.
Dinah started to feel so motivated. The confidence started to elevate in her and just like that, she started to smile.
“What are you smiling about? You are ugly.”
Dinah said, “are you talking about your mirror image?”
“What did you say Dinah?”
“Um! Did you dye your hair from blonde to black? What I said was not that hard to understand; was it, genius?”
That evening, she ran home to call her Grandmother to tell her what happened.
“Grandma, I understand your story now. I talked back to one of the kids trying to bully me and it made me feel so good.
“Yes baby. I am so glad to hear that.
“You made me realize that if anybody should be giving me a seal of approval, it should be me. Who cares what they think about me?”
Dinah changed from a little timid, shy and emotional rollercoaster to one of the most confident people that the world could possibly know.
She gained a full picture of her truth. She did not have to take what people said about her. She could get them to stop talking by loving herself more intentionally.
Dinah stopped feeling self-conscious. When she had an idea, she shared it without fearing that the naysayers in her class would make her thoughts seem invalid because she knew that what she had to say was important.
She started to appreciate her little achievements more and more. She patted her own self on the back even when her parents were too busy to notice her superb work. She stopped listening and caring about the jumble of heaped up words people would sling her way.
Instead, she started to rise up.
And with her beautiful stain-glassed wings, she spread them and took to the sky. She was no longer a caterpillar without her own charted ideas about herself and about the world. She was a young lady with superpowers. Love was her superpower. She fell in love with the fearfully and wonderfully hand crafted being that God created her to be.