I was just starting Junior High.
I was a dork.
Yes, it's true. Don't argue with me – I have the pictures to prove it!
But, I had a great best friend. And she was popular!
And, we had all seven of our classes together – YAY! So I wasn't quite as nervous about going to a big school with older kids. My friend was right by my side…
…until one day, she wasn't.
All of a sudden, one day she started to completely ignore me. She refused to look at me or talk to me. It was weird – and extremely painful.
But things got worse.
Remember I told you she was popular? Yeah, well, that meant that everyone else rallied to her side.
I became a social leper.
As if that wasn't bad enough, this "friend" started taunting me. And she got others to do the same thing. They would whisper and point and giggle. They would sing songs about me – making fun of the way I looked. They would call me names.
(Do you have your hankies out yet? Sniff, sniff…)
This went on for weeks.
Of course, I told my mother about it. And finally, she decided it was time to confront the problem. We set up a meeting with "friend's" mother.
I can so vividly remember that meeting.
My mom and I sat on one side of the living room, talking to the mother on the other side of the room. Of course, she denied it all.
"My daughter would never do that. She's a very nice girl. She's friendly to everyone…Blah, blah, blah."
And, the whole time that she was talking, my "friend" kept appearing in the hallway behind her, sticking her tongue out at me and my mom – persistent in her silent jeering.
The hazing didn't let up.
I wanted to move. I wanted to die.
Finally, one day, "friend" walked up to me and said, "Sorry. I guess I was in a bad mood."
Frankly, I was so relieved that the whole ordeal was over, I didn't say anything except, "Oh, that's OK."
And everything was OK again.
But this incident stuck with me until – well, it's stuck with me my whole life, if I'm honest.
It was terribly damaging.
It's only been in my adult life that I've been able to see all the spiritual lessons in this situation.
How Jesus was ignored, and taunted, and betrayed. How He totally understood what I was feeling. How He cried over my tears. How His heart felt sad…
If I was Him, I'd wonder –
"Seriously, Father – are these the people I came to die for? They're terrible. They're mean and petty and small-minded. They hurt each other. They have a deep capacity for cruelty, and such an ingrained heart of selfishness."
If I was Him, I'd probably give up on us.
But I'm not Him – (aren’t you glad??? I know I am!)
What did He say?
He said the simply impossible, and the impossibly simple thing.
Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
It makes no sense, it doesn't come naturally, we can't do it in our own power. But that is the heart of God's Kingdom – the upside down reversal of all that we normally think and feel and do.
His foolishness = absolute Wisdom.
I forgave my friend in my heart – eventually. And one of the reasons why? Because at other times in my life, if I'm honest, I've been her. I've hurt others, I've ignored them, I've been cruel…
I've been the one undeserving of forgiveness and love.
But…I was loved.
"Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."
Oh, Lord – thank you for the awesome gift of Your Grace…
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"