You're sitting on the front steps of your
house "shooting the breeze" with a friend.

You talk about this.
You talk about that.
No big deal.

Suddenly, while talking about some of the
people you know, your friend says something
that takes you totally by surprise.

"Yeah," your friend says, "he said
he doesn't like you. But don't worry about it."

You pause before you respond:

"Why did he say that?"

"I don't know, but I heard other people say
it too. They said you act stupid or something.
I don't know. It's no big thing.
Don't worry about it."

Even though you're stunned about what was
said, you still try to be "cool" about the whole
situation. The last thing you want to do is to
show your friend that it really bothers you.

"Yeah?" you say, lifting your chin a little.
"Do you think that bothers me?
Well, it doesn't. I couldn't care less
what those creeps think about me.
It ain't no big thing. It doesn't bother me."

After a while, your friend leaves.

At this point you start thinking
pretty seriously about what was said.

Now it's up to you.
What do you think about?

How much would it bother you
that there are people in your school
who really don't like you?

Would it be any big thing to you?

Would you have enough confidence in yourself
to just shrug it off and forget all about it?
Or
would you panic?

Would you start thinking about changing who
you are just to get people to notice you more?

Would you, for example, start to question
how you look?

Would you start to question how heavy you are

or the clothes you wear

or the way you look
every time you see yourself in the mirror?

Or maybe you wouldn't question
your looks at all.

Maybe you feel it's the things you DO that
must change. Maybe you think
that you're just not "cool" enough.

Maybe you think that doing certain "cool"
things will get people to like you more –

maybe things like doing drugs

or drinking alcohol

or skipping class

or putting people down

or cursing all the time

or stealing

or joining a gang.

They're all "cool," right?

Well, maybe not.

But at least they'll get people to look at you.

After all, everybody knows that if you do
dumb things to try to get attention,

people are going to look!

If you don't believe it,
try doing this with a rubber hose,

 

and see how many people look at you.

They'll look for sure.

But what are they looking at?

The guy with the hose is getting attention,
but what is the attention based on?

Is it based on WHO HE IS,
or
is it based on WHAT HE'S DOING?

Big difference!

People will definitely give you attention
when you do dumb things,

but they won't give you something
that is far more valuable –

RESPECT.

This whole notion that the things
you DO or the way you LOOK makes you SOMEBODY to SOMEBODY is a big LIE.
If you believe it, you’re living in Fantasy Land.

Thank goodness David never believed it.

Did you hear about this kid in the news a number of years ago?

The story of David is incredible.

The evening was chilly in more ways than
one when 6-year-old David and his father
pulled up to the door of their motel room.

David's parents were going through a bitter
divorce, and there was no way his father
would let him live with his mother.

It was late. David was tired and went right
to bed after he got into the room. His father
sat in a chair next to him and waited.

When the little boy was fast asleep, his
father slowly rose from the chair, went out to
the car, opened the trunk, and pulled out a
can of kerosene.

When he was back in the room, he checked
one more time to make sure David was
soundly asleep.

He was.

His father then opened the can, sprinkled the
kerosene around his little son on the bed, and
lit a match. The flickering flame reflected the
anger in his eyes as he mumbled to David:

"If I can't have you, son, neither will your
mother."

Then he threw the lighted match onto the
bed and walked out the door.

The tiny flame burst into a blaze.

The bedspread caught on fire.

David's clothes caught on fire.

David rolled to the floor in fear as he tried to
put out the flames that engulfed his body.

Firefighters eventually came and quickly
wrapped blankets around the boy,
smothering the flames.

David survived.

But he was in bad shape.

Most of his body was badly burned. His
fingers were nubs, and what was left of his hair
looked like little strands of thread.

His face was so bad that he had to wear a
skin-grafting mask to help with the healing.

Everything that society says is valuable to
humans was taken away from David.

He had no looks to speak of

and was obviously in no shape to do anything.

If our value as human beings were based
solely on how we look

or on the things we do,

David would have absolutely no value as a
person. He would be a useless hunk of
flesh left to curl up in a ball, wither, and die.

Thank goodness our value
as human beings
goes a lot deeper than that.

This was made clear a few years later when
David's mom called a news conference to let
the public know how he was doing.

The television news conference was held in
a large room where a crowd of reporters
gathered to hear what this boy had to say.

A long table was set up in front of the room,
and a dozen or so microphones were grouped
in front of a chair where David was to sit.

After a time, David slowly made his way in
from the right side of the room. He painfully
walked toward the microphones, aided by a
nurse who gently held his right arm for
support. David carefully sat down in front of
the microphones as the reporters
began to ask him questions.

In answering them, David was "cool." He
could have easily let his anger and hatred
for what his father did do all the talking for
him, but he didn't.

David was simply David.

He was confident. He was strong. And he
communicated in such a manner that made
the country fall in love with him.

Everything that truly defined who
David really was as a person
came through loud and clear that evening.

When I first saw this boy come into the room,

the mask,
the burn scars,
the nubs on his hands instead of fingers,

I heard people attach a name to his body:

"David."

Putting one and one together,
his looks and his name,

I knew that this was a human being
named David.

That was it … nothing more, nothing less.

But then I heard and saw David communicate
with others. I listened to him as he answered
the reporters' questions. I saw him afterward,
interacting with others on stage.

It was then I could see that this wasn't
just a human being,

but a human being who was
strong, confident, intelligent, forgiving
and who had a good sense of humor.

This is when I got to know David the person,

and David the person was a great kid.

"So,"

you might ask,

"what does this all have to do with me?"

Well, maybe nothing.

But if there ever comes a time in your life
when you see a need to change who you are
just because you don't like the way you look

or because you don't feel you're
as good as everyone else,

think about the story of David,
then tell me your changes are really going
to make a difference.

They won't.

That's because like David,

like anyone,

the greatest power you have

in making friends,

going out on dates,

and drawing people to you in general

will always come from within your body,

not from without.

That's something that will never change.

David never got caught up
in what society had to say
as to what made him a valuable person.

He didn't even get caught up
in what some people in his school had to say.

And for all those who like and respect David,

they're sure glad he didn't.

 

E-mail the author about any questions
or comments you may have
or
about your experiences
regarding this topic.

ranch@copper.net

Your information may be
posted on this site
and
may be of some help
to other teens.

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No names will be used.

 

In this web site, teenage issues and problems
such as pregnancy, suicide, depression,
teen sex and abstinence, divorce and family
problems along with making the right choices
in life are discussed.