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A Junior High Tale

by | May 23, 2012

“Who do you need to forgive?”

Our youth pastor’s question hung in the air as we shuffled our feet and looked at the ground. Someone coughed. A girl in the back giggled. No one knew how to respond.

“Is there someone who has hurt you?” he continued, looking down the rows intently. “Has anyone made you angry? Or disappointed you?”

Thinking this message didn’t apply to me as a “mature” fifteen-year-old, I’d been only half-listening when suddenly a face and a name popped into my head from a couple of years earlier in junior high.


I was the new kid in a new school in that seventh grade year, shy and awkward. Charlotte, with the permed blonde hair and glasses, was one of the first to sit with me during lunch, partner up with me for volleyball practice in P.E., and pass notes during history lectures about cute boys in our class. A bit older than me, Charlotte started to introduce me to some of her friends, who all seemed much cooler and more popular than me.


One day as Hannah, a spunky red-head from my class, and I walked into the classroom together, I could feel the eyes of Charlotte and the other girls on us. Giggles, whispered comments, and averted eyes made it clear that Hannah was not on the “approved” list of cool people in seventh grade.

“Why are you hanging out with her?” one of the older girls asked me, followed by snide comments and jokes aimed at Hannah, and, by association, at me.

I looked to Charlotte, waiting for her to stand up for me. But she nervously laughed along with the others, avoiding my gaze. Hannah shot back a retort in our defense and stormed out of the room, pulling me with her.

“Don’t pay attention to those girls,” she fumed. “They’re stupid.”

But I was stunned by Charlotte’s deliberate snub. I kept replaying that scene in my mind, trying to understand what had happened. How could she completely reject me overnight like that? From that day on, Charlotte acted as if we’d never been friends, avoiding me and refusing to talk with me, joining in the other girls’ mocking laughter of Hannah and me.

I had tried to forget that painful seventh-grade year, but now as I sat in the high school youth group several years later, the hurt Charlotte had caused seemed very real again.

Choose to Forgive

I knew that I had to do something. Feeling a bit foolish, I whispered an urgent prayer. “God, I want to forgive Charlotte for rejecting me and turning her back on me and mocking me…” By now the tears were coming. It still hurt more than I had realized.

“I choose to forgive Charlotte right now in Jesus’ name! I’m not going to hold on to that hurt any more!”

As I said the last words, I had a strong sensation of a physical weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I felt so much lighter! I hadn’t realized how much weight I had been carrying around until it was released. And now I felt so free!

Though it may seem insignificant, though you may brush it off as something that happened “a long time ago” and doesn’t matter, though you may have tried to bury the memories for years – every hurt you’ve experienced is significant. Identify the source of those hurts and decide to forgive the offending person today. Don’t carry around that unnecessary weight a minute more!

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:36 (NIV)

Going Vertical!

Getting Your Whole Heart Back

Part 2 of the Freedom Series

Fresh Start Booklet

Processing the Issues of Your Heart

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