Remembering Forgiveness

When I was ten years old, my best friend Elyse lived one house away. She was nine, and we were inseparable. One day, when I went to her house to ask if she could play, she announced, “My mother has a friend over, and she brought her daughter. I’m playing with her.” End of story. Closing of door. I was devastated.

I immediately decided that revenge was my best option. I headed down the street to the home of Jackie, age eight. Two years my junior, she thought I was God, which I thought would suit my purpose.

“Elyse is being mean, “ I began, “and I want to get back at her. Are you in?” Of course she was in, so I laid out my plan in great detail.

“So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to make up a great game, and we’re going to play it in front of her house. When her friend leaves, she’ll probably ask us if she can play. And we’re going to say no—got it?”

Jackie jumped right in. As one of the younger kids in the neighborhood, she was smart enough to realize that this was a great opportunity to one-up one of the bigger kids, so she was all for it.

The game I conceived wasn’t exactly earth-shattering, but, after all, I was only ten. The idea was to stand a considerable distance apart, place a bottle cap on the sidewalk between us, and then try to hit it with a ball. We did this for about an hour, and finally Elyse’s front door opened. Her mom’s friend and daughter made their exit right on cue, and before their car was out of sight, Elyse walked up to us.

“Can I play?” she asked with a bright smile.

Jackie looked at me with nothing less than adoration in her eyes. I said it would happen, and it did—precisely the way I’d predicted.

But then something strange occurred—something I hadn’t foreseen. I looked at Elyse and uttered a single word: “Sure!”

Jackie’s face fell, and she looked at me as if I had just run my bike over her cat. Every iota of hero worship made a quick exit as I completely blew the plan. The three of us proceeded to play my stupid, boring game for about another hour, and during that time, Jackie’s expression went from incredulous to disappointed and back again.

Clearly, I have a problem holding a grudge.


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