About a month ago, I joined Facebook, and I’m still not sure why. I had managed to avoid the trend, even though I’ve received several invitations to become someone’s friend on Facebook for the past year or so. Little did I know when I finally gave in to Facebook that I would be opening Pandora’s box.
Suddenly I was contacted by old childhood schoolmates, some of whom I barely remember, and others that don’t even ring a bell at all. (Their married names didn’t help much, either.) Then, a few weeks ago, a name popped onto my screen that I’d hoped never to see again. She asked to be my friend, and I wondered why.
She was one of the mean kids when I was growing up, and I was the goody two-shoes. I took a lot of flak when I was a kid, because my mom sewed really nice clothes for me, and I always looked pretty cute and I rarely if ever got into trouble. I was as annoying to the mean kids as the mean kids were annoying to me.
I remember one specific incidence with this mean kid. It was a scene that is emblazoned in my mind. We were about 11 or 12 years old, and I had walked to town with her and her friend, thinking I was finally accepted by the “in crowd.” As I recall, we had an OK time, and the two girls walked me home. After I turned to walk into my yard, the two girls turned, and screamed in perfect unison, “Good riddance!” Then they shared a laugh, and walked away. I was crushed.
I have told this story to many people over the years, so it clearly had a major impact on me. When this girl’s name popped up on Facebook, I thought, wow, a memory I’ve managed to keep mostly buried rears its ugly head. Funny how I’m still dragging that around with me more than 35 years later.
I tried three times to write a fairly benign response to this woman on Facebook, without sounding peevish, especially since it’s so public. I finally settled with something like this: “Wow, __________, I never expected to hear from you again. You and I weren’t exactly the best of friends. Are you nice now?” I knew it wasn’t the most gracious response, but I simply couldn’ t lie and act like I was thrilled to hear from her.
It was several days later before she responded to me. She had Googled my name and asked me if I was the same person who blogged on this site. Oh man, I thought. Now she knows I’m a Christian, and I didn’t exactly post the most Christ-like response on her Facebook wall. I knew I had to come clean.
I sent her a message and told her my feelings, and that I had been carrying stuff around in my heart about her for years. I told her that I forgave her, (funny–I’d never thought to forgive her before) and asked her if there was anything she needed to forgive me for. Several more days passed, and I figured that was the end of our communication. Then came the most beautiful note I’ve received in a long time, a note filled with regret and apologies and an owning up to being the mean kid…and even some reasons why she had been like that.
It was like living water pouring into my soul. As another message or two flew back and forth between us, we realized that we are sisters in Christ. Oh, what grace! What amazing grace that God would cross our paths again all these years later so that there could be forgiveness and repentance and healing.
After I received that beautiful note from her, it occurred to me how wonderful it is that God gets in “our stuff.” Only God knew that I had buried that hurt deep in my heart, and that it needed to be extracted and dealt with and healed. I even felt a little sheepish still holding onto it–we were kids then, for crying out loud. But God doesn’t want us carrying around extra baggage. He wants us to be free.
I love Him for that. I love Him for what a personal God He is.