Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The following is from Jerry Stewart who hailed from a small town in southeastern Iowa.  Weight had been a factor in his life since birth and as we'll hear from him, it's been the cause of some pretty harsh treatment over the years.

"It might have been the longest day of my life", said Jerry Stewart.  Those were Stewart's words as he looked back on the recruiting process after graduating from the University of Minnesota.

"I'd spent an earlier recruiting session being humiliated by a little gal who was a recruiter for a marketing firm who in so many words, told me, I was too fat", he said.  "After a long time reflecting as to whether I'd ever put myself in that cattle process again, I sucked it up and went for a second session.  This time I met someone who worked for a company who looked at me as a person first.....who said they were very interested in me and implied weight was not an issue.  The recruiter told me they'd let me know before they left campus that night whether the job was mine".

Stewart spent the hours after his meeting bouncing thoughts back and forth in his head.  Was he this, could he be that, would he be given a chance, gosh, if he could just get an opportunity....he'd shine.  Those words kept playing through his conscience back and forth.  And then the phone rang.  It was 11 p.m.   He hesitated in reaching for the phone figuring he already knew the answer.  In fact, he had the words already on the tip of his tongue..."thank you, thanks for calling.  I wish I could come to work with you, but I understand.  Thank you..."

But something happened after reaching for the receiver.  Stewart was hearing things in his ears he'd was having trouble putting together.  He had to shake himself inside to listen closer.  "Mr. Stewart, we'd like you to come to work for us.  As I mentioned in our interview, you'll be given a nice yearly compensation and benefits package which we can spell out later.   But are you interested?"  

Stewart paused for a short time and thought of all the abuse he suffered in high school being the fat boy and the semi-seclusion he'd put himself through in college.  He thought long and hard and the word that hit him was finally.  Finally, he was getting an opportunity to be someone.  Maybe now, the attitudes would be different toward him and he'd feel different about himself.  "Yes", he said.  "Yes, sir I sure am".  He heard the words as he said them half in a trance.  It was like all this was happening to someone other than Jerry Stewart.  "Wow.  Finally.  Finally", someone had confidence in my abilities", Stewart said.  As Jerry laid his head on the pillow that night, he had a different sense of his life.  And he let out a great big sigh.  One that was no doubt heard back in Bullyville in southeastern Iowa, his hometown.  Yes, it was a restful night of sleep that night.

In the coming days, Stewart packed for his return to Iowa where he would enter the job force.  Jerry was getting more nervous by the day.  Probably because he didn't know what he was walking into......what his boss would be like and what the other employees would think of him.  All pretty important stuff.  Mid-week came and it was time to leave his northern home.   Small Bullyville he liked to call it, but Bullyville all the same.  As the van pulled onto Interstate 35 heading south...Stewart felt nauseous.  Something wasn't right.  In addition to having an upset stomach, there was something else at play here.  But....there was no turning back.  Stewart had made his decision and what was ahead was his future.  Whatever it might be.

The trip and the move into his 2-bedroom apartment went smoothly.  His neighbors seemed friendly but somewhat aloof.  Jerry chalked that up to people wanting to keep to themselves....not anything about him per see.  And then came the first day of work.  And the realization of why he had felt sick days before.

"I walked into the office complex about 7:30 that first morning", Stewart said.  "I wanted to get there early and look around and get my nerves under wrap.  I let out a big rush of air as I entered the door.  And as I did I heard someone say..."hey big fella, we're not open yet".  "That's alright", I said.  "This is my first day of work and I wanted to come early", Jerry stated.  "Oh", said the voice again. "I'd have you sit in the waiting room, but I'm not sure the chairs will hold your weight.  You'll probably have to stand until someone else gets here or wait outside".  

Great, thought Jerry.  Not exactly the greeting he'd hoped for.  Great.  Was this place going to be another Bullyville?  "God, I hope not", he said out loud.

Tell me what gives you the right, to make people feel so small.
What have they ever done to you, usually nothing, nothing at all.
Do you even realize the pain and suffering your actions cause?
I doubt you even notice, as you look to your friends for applause.
Not one of us is perfect, we all have our faults.
But don't use our imperfections as hurtful remarks or taunts.
It's the differences between us that makes us all unique,
From the color of our skin or hair, to the accent in which speak.
Once safe at home your victims alone break down and cry.
Some even feel there's no way out, and that they'd rather die.
Imagine being a parent and finding the child you adore,
having taken their own life, now lying lifeless on the floor.
Some suffer on in silence, afraid to speak out, alone and sad.
Was this really your intention to make someone feel that bad?
It's true that sometimes things are said that start off as a joke,
But you can cause such humiliation from unkind words you've spoke.
So just stop for a moment before bitching or poking fun,
As the damage that your words can do can never be undone.
For each of us is guilty when we ignore the things we see,
Thankful that they chose today to pick on you and not me.
Are we really all that heartless not to help when we see them cry?
Nowadays bullying has gotten worse, it's all gotten out of hand.
And the only way to stop it is for us to make a stand.
So be honest, take a good look at yourself, then ask yourself aloud,
Are you really the kind of person, of who you can be proud?-Rowan Geering, age 12




Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The following is from Jerry Stewart who hailed from a small town in southeastern Iowa.  Weight had been a factor in his life since birth and as we'll hear from him, it's been the cause of some pretty harsh treatment over the years. 

It  was a day Jerry Stewart had looked forward to for a long, long time.  He was finally headed down the highway in a north-westerly fashion leaving his hometown behind. "See ya later", he said out loud. As he took one final glance in the rear view mirror, he thought to himself, "there a better days ahead.  Finally, after years of abuse.....being called "fat and obese".....and sometimes a slob, he was moving on".  He was off to college and a chance for change in his life.  Bullyville would be a thing of the past.

Stewart's drive to Minneapolis took a little over six hours.  It was here where he would begin life anew at the University of Minnesota.  It was summer and Jerry had taken the first opportunity to get out of town that he could.  He didn't wait for the fall term to start.  The sooner the better.  As he trudged up the walk to his new home, Territorial Hall, he couldn't contain his glee.  Finally, he thought. "My day is here".

Stewart checked into his room and placed his belongings in the closet as neatly he could.  And he waited.  And waited.  And waited.  For his roommate.  But that never happened.  He waited expecting that sometime, someone would walk into the room and announce themselves.  Jerry had played it through in his mind for months.  But those hopes were dashed.  As Jerry would later find out, his roommate to be, got a look at his new bunking partner and asked for a move.  The residential counselor never gave Stewart a reason why, but he had his suspicions.  So, rather than having the opportunity to meet someone new and share some new experiences, Stewart could only muster ideas that were less than optimistic and most began with the word, "why".

"Why am I fat?  Why do people treat me this way?  Why can't I get a break" and Why God, do I have to go through this?"  All questions that had real legitimacy.  At least in Jerry's mind.

"That was a tough summer for me.  First off, I was away from home and didn't know anyone, didn't know where anything was and I had feelings of inferiority written all over me", Stewart would explain. "I spent many nights in my room thinking, ...wondering if this was going to be worth it.  Most of the time, I felt like it was a losing situation.  On the other hand, not many people knew me by name, so I tried to keep to myself.  That way I felt invisible", he added.

Year one went by....then two....then three.  And then it was onto Stewart's senior year at the U. As he would recall, much of his college life was inconsequential to him.  He learned alot, probably because he spent alot of time in his room studying....and being alone.  He had maneuvered his way through his first three years fairly easy.  Oh, he had the occasional looks thrown his way.  But he tried to push them aside as soon as he could.  "Frankly, there were so many diverse people at college, that I didn't feel singled out as much as high school", Jerry noted.  "I'd come from a little town in southeastern Iowa and it wasn't like we saw anything to different other than the height and weight of an individual and their hair color and style.  College was different.  And that was good......and bad".

Stewart spent much of his senior year readying himself for the work force. He tidied up his resume, got his grades in the best shape he could and bought a new suit.  A big new suit.  "I probably gained another 75 pounds at college", Jerry added.  "When I went to buy my suit for interviews, I realized how much weight I'd had put on in four years.  The scale now read 375 pounds".  

"The first interview I had was with a marketing firm in Iowa.  It went pretty well, or at least I thought it did", Stewart said. "At the very end, the interviewer asked me if I had ever considered a workout regime to lose weight, because their company liked to think of themselves as a "healthy and fit" organization".  "You need to lose weight Mr. Stewart.  Unless you do that we can't consider you for employment", she said.

"I was crushed", Jerry said.  "I'd gone through crap like this in high school.....had it go away somewhat in college and here was some skinny little female telling me in so many terms, "you need to lose weight".
"Every possible negative emotion came over me.....hate, anger, disgust.  You name it, and I felt it.  I left the interview office as quickly as I could.  Headed for home.  A place where I could feel somewhat safe......and invisible, again.".

"I looked into the freezer and spotted the gallon of pecan sundae ice cream.  That's all I remember about the rest of that day", Jerry said.  "With one exception.  The Bully that had controlled much of my life had reared its ugly head again".


"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:1-2



Saturday, August 4, 2012


The following is from Jerry Stewart who hailed from a small town in southeastern Iowa.  Weight had been a factor in his life since birth and as we'll hear from him, it's been the cause of some pretty harsh treatment over the years.  

"Hey Fatso", screamed the young girl.  "Get out of the way, would you?  Lose some weight or get off the playground".  Those were words Jerry Stewart had felt before.  He'd sensed them in people's eyes the way they treated him but he'd never heard them spoken out loud.  Now they had different legs.  

"I'll never forget that day", said Jerry.  "I remember it like it happened yesterday but in truth that was over 45 years ago.  I was only eight years old then.  And to make matters worse I relive it all the time.  I can't get the hurt out of my mind.  It cut deeper than any knife ever could", he followed up in saying.

That's where much of the ugliness began for Jerry Stewart.  But it started well before that.  Jerry has always been big.  He was a large baby.....10 lbs. 4 oz at birth.   He'd been told his size was a problem for his mother during delivery, but both survived after some difficult moments.  His older brother and sister have always been  much smaller than him and that has never helped much either.  Big, large and now, by someone words, FAT.

"That day on the playground was when I started feeling the abuse, the bullying, the threatening words and the disgust for my size", said Jerry.  "And it seemed like once it began, there was open season on me".  Kids I thought were friends went the other way.  They didn't have time for me anymore and I got left out.  There was this one kid who loved to pick on me", he recalled.  "We were only nine years old.  He'd go out of his way to make me feel like total crap.  It didn't make any matter where we I might run into him, if he had a chance to belittle me or make me uncomfortable', he'd say or do something.  I was his target.  His personal property to belittle or humiliate.  And he was good at it.  He'd always pick times or places where he had friends to back him up and where no adult could hear him rail on me".  

A sign Jerry wished he'd been able to use 

As Jerry continued to discuss his upbringing he cited numerous other situations of bad behavior directed towards him.  In each, he had this overriding thought, "what did I ever do to them to deserve this?"   As I  listened intently to the reliving of some truly ugly times for Jerry, I couldn't  come up with any sort of answer that might help.  His question though is one that has to ring true to anyone who has ever experienced the BULLY.  Why me?  why are you doing this?  and when will you go away?

Jerry's first personal bully did finally go away, but not after a long, long time of damage.  "He moved on to someone else when we hit junior high school.  I was never so glad to have him out of my sight.  But as you can tell, he'll never be out of my mind", Stewart said.  BUT things didn't stay that way for long.  As Jerry went on to explain, there always seemed to be another bully down the street, around the corner or in the locker room.  It was in this place, the room which you had to go shower and dress where young Stewart became the victim of further abuse and mistreatment.

"I hated phys ed", recalled Jerry of his freshman days in high school.  "I tried every excuse imaginable to skip out of that class. No matter what I did, it drew attention to my weight.  I was always slower than everyone else.  That was one part of the embarrassment.  But that was only the half of it, because afterwards came time for us to disrobe and shower.  There was one group of upperclassmen who loved to make fun of me and my rolls.  "Hey look, Jerry's got fat upon fat, they'd say.  It got to the point I'd get physically sick when the day came for that class.  It was that way the whole year.  Somehow I got through the school year and the guys who loved to make fun of me graduated.  So it ended at least for a while.  Every year though, I wrestled with some sort of demon in that class.  Or maybe I should say bully.  One of the same, I reckon", Jerry added.

Stewart went on to tell me how excited he was to graduate from his small Iowa high school and leave the ugly images in his past.  It was time for him to start over, he thought. College seemed to be a course of direction for him, a place where he could learn about people and himself and grow.  But the growing took place more physically than mentally.  In his freshman year he put on another 50 pounds.  Weight was even more of an issue and another detractor was about to emerge.


Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not forsake you.-Deuteronomy 31:6