For as long as I can remember, people have labeled me a pushover, feeble and insignificant. I was a chubby child with crooked teeth who would rather read a book than throw a ball. The other kids had a difficult time relating to me, so I spent most of my time alone. When I made an effort to connect with my classmates they called me crude and hurtful names. They “oinked” at me as if I were a pig, laughing hysterically. At the school bus stop they would push me down and throw things at me. I tried to defend myself but to no avail. I was grossly outnumbered, therefore I realized it was a mute point. So I learned to ignore their teasing and taunting. Sure it bothered me, but crying would only encourage more persecution. Instead I held all my emotions inside, locked up safely away from the threat of their torturous ridicule. My pain began to transform into anger. Before I knew it, the hurt I suppressed had morphed into hostile resentment. It ate at me everyday, robbing me of my peace of mind.
Then I met Christopher. He was a mentally challenged student who moved into my fifth grade class at the beginning of second semester. I was assigned the responsibility of helping him with his class work and getting him to lunch on time. Chris could not recite his alphabet, but I discovered he was wise well beyond his years. No matter how many times the kids goaded him and mocked his disability, he never let the smile fade from his freckled face. He exhibited the most positive and friendly demeanor I had ever seen, and in the face of incredible adversities. He was a tremendous pillar of strength. His love and spirit of friendship were unfaltering, even extending to the people who attempted to belittle him with their petty games. He warmed and inspired me.
I let go of all the animosity for my brow beating peers. I realized that I was not a doormat unless I let people bully me into being unhappy. This I believe, forgiveness is a courageous path taken by only the strongest individuals. Bitterness and grudges are a crutch. They enable weakness and stunt personal growth. Unconditional forgiveness is the gift of closure, resolve, and freedom I give to my soul in times of despair. Life is too short to waste time and energy on fury and indignation. I have Chris to thank for teaching me this lesson, rescuing me from plenty of misery and heartache. This is dedicated to every “Christopher” out there, changing the world one person at a time.
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