It’s April 1st. Loved by many as April Fools’ Day – the day for practical jokes.
It is, however, not loved by me for that reason.
I hate practical jokes.
Maybe I wouldn’t if the many, many practical jokes that were played on me when I was a kid, were done with the intention of being funny and not being cruel.
For a year or two, my kid brother and I were on a Bible Quizzing team in our church. I was in grade 6 or 7, I really can’t remember for sure. To do that Bible quizzing, we had to memorize one or both of the Corinthian epistles. I really can’t remember. We travelled around for overnight stays in cities around Lethbridge for these competitions against kids from other city’s churches. I know we stayed in Red Deer once. I really can’t remember any of the others, but I’m sure there was more than one overnight trip.
What I remember really well is Cindy Hendrickson and Beverly Neudorf.
Beverly was sometimes my friend. Cindy was a cruel, cruel girl who seemed to have a never-ending supply of ideas of ways to torment me. Beverly was pretty new to Lethbridge, so it is a little easier to give her grace. She was trying to fit in.
But these two girls left me with some of the worst memories of my youth. I still can’t think back on it without pain in my heart. Those girls hurt me so badly with their practical jokes and cruel comments. The only reason I can remember that we had stayed at Red Deer one time is that I almost ran away from the place we were billeted at. The girls played a practical joke on me and I reached my last straw.
I ran upstairs to the front door of the house we were staying in.
It was about midnight.
I was in my pajamas.
It was winter.
I almost ran.
But I did have some good sense about me. I was in a city I didn’t know and it was freezing cold outside. Where could I go?
I remember that I thought about waking up the grown ups and crying to them about what the girls did, but I was afraid they would be angry with me if I did or worse, not care. They were a very kind couple and they probably wouldn’t have done either, but I didn’t know that. My own parents didn’t always seem too sympathetic to how I was bullied at school, so I didn’t know how these grown ups would be.
I just went back to bed.
I never did well in the Bible quizzing because of those two girls. I dreaded going to youth group at my church because of those two girls.
As an adult there have been many times where something would trigger a memory of their cruelty and I would begin to imagine that, as adults, their lives were just horrible; that people (like their husbands or something) were heaping on them the pain that they heaped on me; that they were both hugely fat and ugly and their children were all turning into criminals.
In all honesty, I don’t imagine things like that anymore and haven’t in a very long time. I do sometimes wonder if they ever think about me; or rather, if they ever think about they way they treated me. And if they do, do they ever feel a pang of remorse over it.
I don’t expect that they do.
There seldom is any “justice” for the bullied.
And the bullied is the fool, if they don’t learn compassion and love for others because of they way they were treated.
Not for a long time.
I have a child who is bullied at school sometimes. I can understand now, how a parent really can’t do much about that. I am at a loss most of the time as to what to say to my son when he comes home with stories of what other kids are doing. I just try to let him know I love him, and to stand up and be proud of who he is, regardless of what other kids say or do.
What more can I do?
So, obviously, I’m not a fan of April Fools Day. As far as I’m concerned it’s just the first day of April.
I think I’ll start praying for those girls who are now women who treated me so badly, so long ago. Maybe their lives are just like I hopefully imagined; and I don’t really wish that on anyone.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)