Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Full Circle

I have a confession to make. My deepest, darkest secret. One I carried for 25 years.

As a child, growing up in an insulated Christian family, I could have been accurately described as a good little girl. Who wouldn't, when only presented with good role models, Bible stories, Jesus music, and an entirely Christian social circle?

Yet, in testimony to fallen sinful nature, a thorn of temptation threaded its way into my mind. And festered.

One morning I got the thought in my head that I would very much like to know what it felt like to punch someone in the face. It couldn't be my little brother, I would get in so much trouble. So I cast about in my mind for who, in my limited social world, would be a good victim for my plan. Yes, this naive church girl premeditated a plan to commit a terrible crime in cold blood.

At last my thoughts settled on a certain girl from my neighborhood, Kristen. My limited interactions with the other neighborhood girls had taught me that this girl was not a very nice girl. In fact, in my small world, she was the first to ever fulfill the archetypal role of "bully." I mostly stayed away from her, but sometimes my mom would invite her over to play with me. Yes, she would be the perfect patsy. Who in their right mind would pick a fight with the bully? Only a naive church girl, for sure.

The opportunity arose the next time she came over to play (it may have been that very afternoon). I chose to implement my plan while we were walking together back to her house. We hadn't gone ten steps out of my driveway when I screwed up my courage, balled up my fist, and swung it around to connect with her mouth.

I had really done it. I was shocked.

She looked at me in surprise, grabbed her mouth, and ran home alone without saying another word. I felt deflated, for the moment had not gone at all the way I expected. What was I expecting?

I have no memory of ever speaking to her again. I have carried the shame of this unwarranted deed with me for years, wishing I could go back in time and undo it. Don't we all have moments like that? But alas, the only thing left to me is to confess it to God, and learn a valuable lesson about long-reaching consequences of our actions.

UNTIL... a few months ago.

Do you know about Facebook? I was floored when this very same Kristen looked up my mom on Facebook last November. And utterly blown away when I heard her story.

You see, Kristen had been growing up in a home that knew nothing of Jesus. She knew a lot about fighting from the examples set in her home; and in response to teasing had been encouraged to stand up for herself and "teach those kids a lesson."

My mom knew or cared nothing about who was nice or who was mean, and regularly invited the neighborhood children to our home for Good News Clubs. This program sponsored by a Christian organization called Child Evangelism Fellowship, equips anyone to host a five-day program to tell children the message of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus and his free gift of salvation.

And Kristen came. At least twice. She took home reading materials about how to have Jesus as a forever friend. And apparently she held on to them, and took them to heart. And God began to work in her heart to protect her from the activities that derail many teens.

In the years that followed, Kristen began to change. She no longer picked fights, and began attending Young Life events. In college, she became involved with Campus Crusade, and formally claimed Christ as her Savior and Lord. The man she dated and ended up marrying has been the leader of the youth group at their church for 12 years, giving her influence over hundreds of young people. Her rebellious brother has now become a believer, as have both of her parents.

And she had been looking for my mom for twenty years, to thank her for the Christian influence she placed on Kristen's life, eventually leading her to the place she is today.


And oh boy, now I feel even more ashamed for falling into gossip and slander from such an early age, and for attacking this girl who had really never done anything to me, who had been given such a different example than I for how to live life. You just can't believe everything people say about others. It turns out that my source of knowledge about Kristen and her "bully" reputation was also not a very nice girl, who was constantly knocking heads with Kristen.

When we first hooked up on Facebook, my apology, 25 years in the making, burst out of me. I couldn't believe I had been given this rare opportunity to at least apologize for what I had done. And do you know something funny? She does not even remember it! She thinks that, given her history and home situation, she probably felt she deserved it. She does recall me finding her in her driveway one time and apologizing for something, but she never figured out what it was. But this last winter she forgave me, and in that moment of absolution all my guilt washed away. And I felt actual relief.

Our story came full circle today, for we were able to finally meet in person. Kristen is beautiful, well-spoken, and with a vibrant faith that quietly underlines everything she says. I feel honored to know her as an adult. And I think we will be friends for a long time. My newest, oldest friend.


  1. I'm really enjoying reading about your vacations adventure, and wishing I was somewhere cooler than Texas in summer. Keep it up.


  2. Krista

    That is amazing! Wow! I completely understand your situation. Good girls who do anything wrong seem to bathe in their problems forever. Until freed.
    My own kids have experienced a little of that.
    Me too.

    What a treasure to find her again and see what God is doing in her life! Yay!

  3. wow. it's so good to hear that our sometimes horrible childish deeds can be forgiven and forgotten.

    i'm impressed you had the integrity to do so.


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