As I have ramped up my blogging that includes devotionals and 7-day practical faith perspective, I've decided to add one random blog per month that doesn't fit any particular category. It could just be an observation, a personal story, or extracted from something I'm working on right now. In this first case of randomness, it's the latter two.
I'm in the midst of writing my second book, Live Like You're Loved, which expands upon my released video series of the same title. This week I've been polishing up a chapter called "Live Like You're Forgiven," and I decided to include a very personal story that began in my adolescence.
Back in middle school, I was head over heels for this girl. I had never encountered anyone like her and thought she was just the best ever. But she wasn’t that interested in me. You know how middle school is – it was a mostly “off” relationship, but we had a brief period of “on.”
One year during the “off” time, Valentine’s Day rolled around. This young romantic decided to purchase a box of candy, write a love note, and put them both in her locker. She never acknowledged receiving them, so I was left empty and wondering. Actually, it got worse, because she told her girlfriends exactly how she had trashed the items, and of course, it got back to me. For the rest of middle school, her friends would come up to me and quote the love note. Such middle school angst! I turned my romantic attention to other girls after that.
I eventually moved to another town. Years later, I happened to be in her town, and we had a pleasant conversation, catching up. Then that was it for another couple of decades, until through the magic of Facebook, I reached out to her again. This time, we were catching up on Messenger in a long conversation – what had happened to each of us, about our families, what happened to former classmates. Suddenly, in the middle of writing about her cats (of all things), she inserted, “Did I ever tell you Thank You for the candy?”
I can’t explain exactly how I felt when I received that. I think my heart stopped! All the buried pain of that episode came back freshly. I hardly knew how to respond.
I wrote, “No, you didn’t.” But then I started talking about how I was a goofy lovestruck middle schooler, and she was a young girl, and it was all OK, etc., etc. Basically I was giving her every “out” for her behavior.
Then she simply wrote, “Thank you for the candy.” She went on to say that she still thought about that candy every time Valentine’s Day rolled around.
It made such a huge difference to me. I was practically in tears. I went and told my wife Sara what had happened (she was quite fine with me corresponding with my classmate). And it just opened things up between this woman and me, to where we could truly become friends. It was a blessing to have that friendship, until she suddenly passed away from a stroke a few years later. But I was so glad to have that hurt taken away, to reconcile with her and fully become friends for the first time.
Forgiveness is one thing; it is one-sided. I had already forgiven my friend. But reconciliation is a different thing; it has two sides, where both people are involved. We were able to reconcile because of her thank-you.
May we all have the insight to be able to identify how we have hurt others and hurt God, and then may we all have the spiritual maturity to apologize specifically, ask for forgiveness, and make amends.
Live Like You're Loved will be released this fall. I will keep you posted on its progress and on upcoming opportunities to purchase an advance copy of the book. Meanwhile, the video series is available now for small groups and churches at https://www.ceciltaylorministries.com/live-like-you-re-loved .