-Pastor Richard Castillo
Once upon a time I was an opinionated, passionate pastor’s kid with little to no filter and somehow felt I was untouchable. This meant that anyone who did something or said something that raised my hackles would get both barrels of my opinion, dissidence, activism or childhood militancy. Now not to brag or shine a positive light on this behavior…but I was downright remarkable. I should have been a lawyer, or so I’ve been told.
My targets would include unfair teachers, unimaginative pastors and the occasional off-balanced principal. My fellow classmates could also be targets, but that can be a dangerous gamble as I still hold scars from bad moments in grade school.
On one such occasion my best friend and I were in the midst of checking out stacks of books so we could show our expertise and worthiness to start an exclusive club. Space, Cars, Animals; we would build a club on a subject and our fellow classmates would flock to apply for membership. As you could imagine, this created wells of social power. We had the power to include or reject individuals, plan agendas for meetings and had a say in how recess was organized. We walked the halls as kids above kids. Sadly, in this sort of situation there can be casualties of power. The struggle for the title president became elementary war.
I found out that day it isn’t a great idea to force friends to pick sides. With my “best friend” and his wicked silver capped grin in my mind I sat in the hallway outside of the gym with my little face in my hands listening to my classmates chant his name all the way through recess. At that moment I was under the full onslaught of peer hellfire and I could feel it with every fiber of my being. Obviously the memory still stings.
25 years later you’ll find me a bit more mature and socially experienced. I was harshly reminded last week about the consequences of my overzealous reaction to another student in grade school. Sadly, I barely remember the event, but he had carried it with him for all these years. He contacted me on social media and in a massively magnanimous moment (say that three times fast) he said that he wanted to lay this moment down and let God have it. You have to understand that this moment ended with our teacher dragging him down the hallway by his collar and his father doing much the same as he exited our school and never returned. I only remember the tears in his eyes and the relief I felt as he disappeared.
I at once felt ashamed and relieved at getting his message. Ashamed that I could be the cause of so much pain, and relieved that he would be willing to forgive me after so many years.
Do you have versions of yourself out there that you might not know exist, but which are resting on the hearts and minds of others? Are you one who is holding onto hate for another because of a wrong they inflicted on you for which they may not have the means to make amends? Would you be willing to lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus and move on with your life, or even as this “friend” of mine did for me, allow your offender to be forgiven and know they are forgiven? What is your verdict?