I never expected to hear from any of the kids who used to bully me as a child. Its just something from my past that I’ve moved on from. Growing up with attention deficit disorder combined with Asperger’s definitely brought about its own set of unique challenges. However they were challenges that I was willing to conquer.
While I had a steady group of close friends, I also had plenty of tormentors. I didn’t just have the usual name-calling and general playground insults, these bullies actually enjoyed finding new ways to make my social life at school a living hell. From being pushed over and having glitter thrown all over me, to being physically prevented from leaving the bike storage area after school, I had to endure some pretty horrendous things.
I left my private Catholic School in the middle of the third grade due to bullying. The school administrators really didn’t do anything to address the problems that my parents and I brought up. Soon I was attending a public elementary school in town, and while the teachers and administrators did a much better job listening and addressing these kind of problems, I still had my share of kids who looked at me like an easy target.
It eventually got better and by the time I was in high school it really wasn’t so much of an issue. I tried to keep a positive mental attitude about everything. I told myself that all the verbal abuse and bullying that I had experienced, was allowing me to become a stronger person. Everybody has to walk through fire at some point in their lives, and I was just getting it out of the way now.
Flash forward 20 + years. I get a random friend request from Facebook, with an accompanying message. I have no clue who this person is. I look through their profile trying to see if I know them. I’m not seeing anything that rings a bell. I open up the message and read what he says. It’s one of the kids who used to bully me back in Elementary School.
In the letter he apologized for all the years that he bullied me and asked for my forgiveness. He explained how he has gained a new understanding for what it’s like to live with autistic spectrum disorder and how it affects kids differently. He told me he was sorry and he wished he could go back and take all those years of pain away. He apologized for the torment he caused me and the anguish my parents must have felt.
I was speechless when I read the message. I had no clue how to respond. In fact it took me almost four days to figure out how I was going to respond.
I responded by saying yeah you were a jerk in school and that I had wished we could have been friends. But in the end we were just kids, still learning how to interact with our peers in healthy and meaningful ways. I told him that I absolutely 100% forgive him for anything and everything that was ever said or done.
Part of me didn’t want take the high road. This was someone who didn’t make my life easy. However Christ asks us to forgive those who have hurt us, or we ourselves will not be forgiven for our own sins. I actually felt better giving him that forgiveness. So far only he’s the only person from that time in my life to actually reach out, and take ownership for their actions. I’m glad he did. Maybe after all these years he and I can finally start building the friendship that I originally wanted when we were kids.
Christ forgives, and so do I.
Until next time my friends,
The Lancer statue at my old high school in Thousand Oaks, California.