Saturday, October 30, 2010

When You've Been Wronged...

I thought about someone today that I haven't thought of in ages. I can't even remember her name, but she is a part of my memories, tucked way in the back where you put things you'd rather not remember. She was a classmate when we were in junior high school. Like many of you, junior high school was not the highlight of my life! I was bullied in junior high, although I didn't know that was what it was called. I was a shy, skinny girl. Although I had friends, I wasn't popular. The two times I clearly remember being bullied happened on the school bus (which is why my own kids NEVER rode the school bus!). One time a girl named Silvia pegged me as a target. I have no clue why because I certainly never did anything to antagonize her. I remember one day when we arrived at school. We got off the bus and she made a beeline to me. I don't recall her exact words, but it went something like:

"Do you wanna fight me?"

I'm sure I looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a semi-truck! "No!" I gasped. "I don't wanna fight."

That seemed to give her pause. She said okay and we were friends after that. Weird.

The next time I was bullied by a boy. I've always heard that when a boy bullies a girl he must like her. Yah right. This creep--can't remember his name--sat behind me in the school bus. I liked sitting toward the back 'cuz that's where the "cool" kids sat. Not that I was cool by any means but I guess I was a wanna-be. Anyway one day this boy who supposedly liked me according to the experts spit in my hair. Yep. A big, nasty wad of saliva. I was horrified! I'm sure I told him to quit but being that I was meek and mild in those days--unlike now!--I didn't make a big deal about it. A few days later he sat behind me again. It was a pleasant afternoon and the bus windows were open as we traveled home. As we were driving along, this boy stood up behind me, reached over my shoulder, took my Peanuts comic book off my lap and threw it out my open window.

Can you believe that?! I couldn't either.

I can still see in my mind's eye my little green book with Snoopy on the front, lying on the road as the bus continued down the street. I remember tears coming to my eyes. I don't know if I said anything to that boy, but I know I never sat in the back of the bus again.

But both of those events pale compared to what this unnamed girl did.

One fall day I wore my brand new coat to school. It was a thing of beauty. Made from faux blue suede, it had faux white fur at the cuffs and collar with silver snaps. My sweet mom had splurged on that coat because I wanted it.

Well, apparently this classmate of mine thought my new coat was a thing of beauty too. Just a few days after I wore it to school for the first time, it disappeared. I was in choir that year and we had to walk across the street to get to the classroom. I carefully placed my new coat on a chair, like everyone else did, and went on to practice our upcoming Christmas songs.

But when class was over, my coat was gone. It was no where to be found. I can still vaguely remember the panic I felt and I can still vaguely remember telling my mother about the whole thing. I don't remember her reaction, but I'm sure she was peeved. At me, for losing the coat, and at the thief. Days went by and no coat turned up, so Mom finally took me to the store again and bought me another identical coat. Even though it looked just like the original, I never enjoyed wearing that coat.

And do you know what that thief had the nerve to do? She showed up to school two weeks later wearing MY coat! She'd cut out the label where my mom had written my name--my mom ALWAYS wrote our names on everything! To this day I wonder what she thought when I looked at her wearing my coat. I knew she knew I knew that was my coat. But what could I do about it?

I don't believe I've ever actually said the words "I forgive you" to her until today. Like I said, I can't even remember her name. But this morning I thought about her. I wondered what her life is like now. I wondered what her life was like back then in the 70's. Did she steal my coat because her family couldn't afford one? Did she continue stealing and end up in jail? Does she ever think about me and my coat and feel sorry for doing it?

I'll never have the answers to those questions, but God knows where she is and who she is. He knows everything about her. If she ever stumbles across this blog, I want her to know I forgive her. I even forgive that creep, er, boy who spit in my hair.

I have wronged people and people have wronged me. Some were petty, some were pretty serious. Some were life-altering. But all of it, no matter how great or how small, must be forgiven.

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." ~Jesus in Matthew 6:14-15

And Jesus knows a thing or two about being wronged, don't you think?


Anita said...

Michelle, I was also a shy and timid girl and couldn't stick up for myself. Most of my bad experiences, however, come from adults, and not my peers. It is hard to forgive those who have wronged us, and equally as hard to forgive ourselves.

Michelle Shocklee said...

Hi Anita,

Thanks for your comment. Forgiveness is one of those subjects I'm afraid we won't ever be finished learning about.