Somewhere between third and fourth grade, I was the victim of a prank played by two older girls in my neighborhood. I thought the girls were my friends.
The actual prank was carried out long before I knew it even started. I came in from playing outside one day, ran past my mother in the kitchen, sped down the hall to my bedroom, and plopped myself right up on my bed.
My mother came into my room slowly closing the door behind her. I vividly remember my mother smiling at me and putting her arms around me asking “Is there something you want to tell me?” Uh, nope. My mother continued the hug and said, “I received a phone call today from a man wanting to know how old you were explaining he had received an inappropriate letter from you.” Uh, what?!
My mother went on to say the man’s name was Mr. Overstreet. Mr. Overstreet received a letter in the mail that professed “my” love for him with a “red ribbon of love” attached.
My mother asked me a second time “Is there anything you want to tell me?” I began to cry and assured my mother that I did not write a love letter and I didn’t even know a Mr. Overstreet!
It took my detective mother only a few days to find the real culprits. Two older girls in the neighborhood wrote the letter and put a piece of red satin ribbon in the envelope. Their combined efforts resulted in a letter than was much more mature than my young and naïve mind could produce. They randomly picked out what they considered to be a funny name in the phone book and mailed the letter to Mr. Overstreet. At the time, I didn’t realize how cruel girls can be and hadn’t yet experienced the sting of betrayal. Oh, but wait…Please do not feel too sorry for me.
Sometimes during the same year and the same summer, my mother dropped myself, my cousin and a friend off at the community pool. My male cousin decided it would be fun to gang up against my unsuspecting friend. You’d think I’d face the temptation with tremendous sensitivity after being a victim of a mean prank. Nope. I joined in teasing and harassing my innocent friend while my older male cousin egged it on.
I knew in my heart the behavior wasn’t right. I remember looking at her face as she held tightly to the rope separating the shallow end from the deep end of the pool. The image still remains in my memory. I knew I was being a mean girl; yet, I didn’t stop.
My mother picked us up at the pool asking how the swim went. My cousin shouted, “Great!” I stayed quiet. My friend looked out the window on her side of the car never saying a word. About an hour after arriving home, our phone rang. My mother answered it. Once I realized it was my friend’s mother, I promptly headed back to my bedroom and jumped back up on my bed. Waiting.
Yes, my mother came walking in my room again but certainly was not smiling this time. She closed the door – not softly – and asked “Is there something you want to tell me?”
My mother explained that since I had been the victim of a prank and made the decision to participate in a prank, I knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end and the giving end of meanness. She asked me “Which felt worse?” I responded, “Giving.”
My mother firmly replied, “Remember that feeling.”
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ” 1 John 1:8-9