Loving all the enemies!

I really apologize for having nothing to write about other than memories and whatnot. I truly hope I’m not boring anyone. My present isn’t anything to write about–well, nothing I’d put in public or the Internet. My future is too shaky to really discuss. What does that leave? The past.

Sixth grade. Honestly, I still sort of admire my sixth grade self. It surprises me that I actually had that much strength in me. Then I start wondering where all that strength went.
Sometimes bad experiences change us for the better. For me, that was sixth grade. After fifth grade’s terrible experiences, I decided to be the sweetest, most accepting little girl anyone had ever met. I tried my hardest to put kindness into practice and make it a priority, even when people hurt me.
So, in sixth grade, some drama happened with three girls. Two of the girls had been my friends formerly, and one of those two stopped being friends with me unexpectedly. This is where my desire to be kind was tested. I could’ve retaliated to all the hate I got from those three, but I refused. This is where I admire the random strength I had in sixth grade: I still chose to love and care about those girls, no matter how they hurt me. I remember thinking a whole lot about Jesus–how he’d basically been hanging there bleeding and dying for the people who were killing him. I wanted to be like Jesus. I wanted that kind of love and forgiveness. No, I wasn’t perfect–of course I still messed up–but I did my best.
And somehow, through it all, I didn’t completely lose hope. I didn’t really pray all that much, but I do remember this one time. It was a bitter day in December. The only warm thing about sitting out there in the cold was my tears. It was then, while I was sitting on the back of the car, that I started praying–not for my circumstance, but for the lives of those three girls. In the worst months, I sat out there and prayed for the very people who were making those months hard for me. At school, I did my best to be as kind to those girls as I could.
My school had a rule that if Valentines were to be given to one student in the class, they had to be given to all the students in the class. The Saturday before the fourteenth, I spent the whole day making personalized, handmade cards with an encouraging word and compliment for every student in my class. On Valentine’s Day, everyone handed out their cards. One of the three girls (the girls whom I prayed for) had also made handmade cards. I watched her hand them out–they were made of brightly colored foam, and they had stickers and googly eyes on them. Then I got mine.
It was brown construction paper. Black marker. No stickers, no decoration. No smiley face. It read:

abby,
happy valentine day

I felt like crying when I received that Valentine. It was almost worse than if I’d gotten no card at all. But then I remembered–I’d made very special cards for everyone. I passed them out. The very moment after I was given that ugly piece of construction paper the color of dog excrement, I handed the girl the card I’d made just for her–a large purple heart with designs, and a personalized note.
Her face changed.
She stared at it for a very long time.
It was only a matter of days before she and one of the other three girls apologized and asked to be friends. About two months later, the other girl did the same.

Today, I’m still friends with two of those three girls (I had a falling out with one of them shortly after I began the seventh grade), and they are both very wonderful people. I still find it amazing. I mean, how many people can say that? I believe that if I’d retaliated and tried to fight fire with fire, the outcome might have been very different.

I like that sixth grade me. I want to pray for the people who have hurt me more. I want to be kind not only to the people who I love, but the people whom I find harder to love. The easy thing to do when someone hurts us is to find some way to get revenge. It’s harder to keep calm and practice forgiveness. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should be doormats and let everyone walk all over us. It’s important to stand up for ourselves (I’m still working on that one). But standing up doesn’t mean lashing out at the other person.

Again, I find it harder to forgive than to seek revenge. It’s difficult, but it’s so much more rewarding than revenge. And when you think about it that way, being kind is actually pretty badass.

 

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