“You saved my life.”
I heard her say the words but the weight of them didn’t sink in until she spoke the next. “I was going to commit suicide the next day, but you were nice to me. You guys were my friends.”
Jen and I cut our eyes at each other and trying desperately to communicate via ESP. What?! Did she just say suicide? My brain was short-circuiting while my mouth was silent. I had no idea. Neither of us could wrap our hair-sprayed bangs around that thought.
Our youth group was having a share session, but no one expected a confession like that to come spilling forth. I’ll admit I knew there were people in our youth who were mean to this girl, but never had I imagined it affected her that much. Sadly, I probably didn’t put that much thought into it at all. I mean it didn’t affect me, right?
My mother taught me to be nice to everyone, and if anyone was left out – if there was a girl who stood in the corner – go get her. So I did. It honestly wasn’t hard. I’d like to brag and tell you I did something awesome, like I went home and weaved her a special friendship bracelet to match my own or made her a pair of ribbon barrettes with hanging beads. But I didn’t. I just asked her to join our group. And I spoke to her. Jen did the same. She was somewhat of a shy person herself, familiar with the corners of a room. So she noticed when someone else was in them.
When I think back to this time, I’m flooded with questions. Why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I ask her to spend the night? And why was she treated so poorly in youth group? Isn’t everyone supposed to be accepted in church?
The words come back to me from time to time – “You saved my life.”
And when I think about it, what I’d really like to say to that sweet girl from long ago is, “No. You saved mine.”
Learning as a teenager that my actions have an effect on people changed the way I lived. It made me search the corners, offer a smile, and reach out my hand more often. It shaped me.
And for that, sweet childhood friend of long ago, I thank you.
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40 NIV
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