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Dear Emily

November 6, 2016

Dear Emily,

Tonight I felt compassion for you for the first time. In all my attempts to forgive you over the years, I never included compassion for who you were when you hurt me.

You were only a child.

You were only 11 or 12 years old when we started middle school, just like I was. How could you have known that your betrayal and your unkindness towards me, the one who was supposed to be your “best friend,” had the power to change me so much? You couldn’t have had the wisdom to know that the cruel things you said behind my back and your embarrassment of me would cause me such insecurity for the next 25 years. How could you have known that?

You were only a child.

You made me feel painfully left out and unwanted. Almost all the rest of my life I feared looking foolish. I secretly, desperately desired to be liked and admired, sometimes pretending to be someone I was not just to be liked. I fixated on things I wished I could change about myself. I often felt like I just wasn’t good enough.

I was recently surprised by my reaction to my ten-year-old daughter telling me she felt left out. I cried. Like for a couple days, every time I thought of it. I felt angry with anyone that would make my daughter feel that way. And I knew I was overreacting. This wasn’t even intentional cruelty we were talking about. But my heart freaked out. I told God I knew I was more upset about what had happened to me in middle school than I was about what was happening with my daughter. Geez, unresolved issues much? That was 30 years ago!

But you were only a child.

Middle school is a rough time, and I guess I’ve always just seen how much harder and scarier you made it for me, instead of ever considering what it was like for you. You just wanted to be popular. You were probably just insecure and scared, and you chose social survival over your best friend’s feelings. I don’t even know if you knew that there is a God who loves you more than you can comprehend. I also don’t know what it did to your heart to have an absent father. Maybe you had all kinds of fears and insecurities that drove you to keep yourself socially “safe,” disassociated with anyone who just wasn’t cool enough. I don’t know what went on in your heart then. All I ever considered was what you did to me.

I’m sorry for whatever that little girl Emily went through. I’m sorry if you ever felt shame for betraying me. I’m sorry I never felt compassion for you. But now I do.

You were only a child.

I forgive you. I’ve said that before, I’ve prayed that before, I’ve truly attempted to heal and move on before. But this time: with compassion. You hurt me most likely because you were hurting.

I wonder where you are now. I finally feel compelled to pray for you. May you know how much God loves you and that He created you to experience joy in this life. May you have people who love you, who cheer you on, and who make your life beautiful. May you forgive yourself for all your past mistakes, and may you forgive others for theirs. You are precious. I pray that you know it.

Dear, dear Emily.

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