|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 13, 2019 at 4:35 PM|
A Reunion with the Past: Reflections, Revelations, and Results
In May 2019, I had the privilege of participating in my 40th high-school reunion. The reunion theme “Reunited and It Feels So Good” was spot on and fitting for the event. Like all other graduates participating in this event, I flew to Jamaica for this three day jam-packed reunion. The trip started with the usual jitters about the event - excitement about seeing old friends, some apprehension about reconnecting with former bullies, and other “not so nice” classmates. At the beginning of the planning for the reunion, a high school friend and her husband who live in Grand Cayman proposed that we coordinate our trip, and room together. Unfortunately, halfway through the planning, my friend and her husband canceled their plans to participate in the reunion because she had an international exam, and I was left to attend on my own. My jitters returned in full force.
A few weeks before the event, someone in our reunion group suggested that we share current pictures, and the men in the group started sending copies of their then-and-now photos. My panic grew, and after much deliberation I decided against sending my picture. “Let them see me just as I am,” I thought! Finally, the day came for the reunion, and I headed to my high school with more than a few butterflies in my tummy. My nephew drove me to the event, and while I got there a little later than I wanted to, I arrived in time to listen to introductory remarks from the current Principal. Next came the hugs from those who immediately recognized me, and the guesses from those who had no idea who I was and vice versa. The first day of the reunion was Labor Day in Jamaica and so, true to form, we picked up paint brushes and painted our school. As I painted and moved from one area to the next, I stopped to pray over the students that would sit at the tables. My mind took me back to over 40 years ago and my life on these very grounds. God had outdone Himself and exceeded even my expectations! Here I was, almost 41 years to the day I left this school, still in my right mind, an upstanding citizen, and contributing to the social capital of my society. What happened? Were the words “you will never become anybody” or other negative things said about me not true? It felt true then and it did now. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more the memory of the hurt of those words echoed across my mind. God is a redeemer. He was, and still is faithful, and despite what man’s verdict was, He had a bigger plan for me. The next two days of the reunion slipped by too quickly, and I watched as old patterns emerged, and the “halo effect” of some continued as it did during our time in high school. As we talked as a group, walked the grounds of our high school, and even sat in our former classroom, memories good and bad kept bellowing up. Finally, as we stood to honor those from our class that have died, it finally dawned on me, I was a survivor!
Did the abuse at home, school, and in life happen to make me who I had become. Did the mistreatment I faced in my life help to build empathy, compassion, and other character traits that were necessary for my current work in Christian ministry? I am not certain about anything, except that God had used what was meant for my harm for good. He had shocked even me with what he did for me over the past 40 years. The devil and the bullies had not won! As I reflected on this journey, I wanted to share some reflections, revelation, and results that came to mind as I debrief internally from my reunion.
My reflections are as follows:
• Words hurt, and although the nursery rhyme may say something else, one must be careful what we say about others. Even more urgent, one must be careful about what we write about others.
• No man has the last word! Whether you are principal, my mother, aunt, head girl, monitor, teacher or janitor, your words or treatment of a student does not define who they are or what they will become. I am living proof of the contrary.
• Parental abandonment, family abuse, or other adverse childhood experiences have a profound impact on a child and can handicap one’s future. I was crippled for more than 30 years.
• Forgiving the bully, the abusers, and anyone that hurt you in your life journey, is the linchpin for allowing God’ grace to flow in your life. The bible is true and we must pray for those who hurt and despitefully use us. Only then can we see the fruit in our lives.
• Treat each child with respect; be fair, give them all you have, since one never knows who they will become. Who knows you might be looking at a future President.
None of this was easy, and it takes a personal relationship with Christ who is bigger than all of our problems, to give us the victory.
In addition to these reflections, I had a critical revelation and could see the results or outcomes that God had achieved in my life. A key revelation is as follows: God continues to be in control. We don’t get to write the script. Of course, if it were up to man, my life would not be what it is today. But for God and His grace, I would be dead. All honor and praise belong to Him!
But HE would not be God without fruit. His work is always evident and so there were several results of His involvement in our lives. Results, what results you ask? I am glad you asked. I saw and continue to notice the results of His work in my life. For example, despite the teasing, abuse, lack of self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, God had shaped me into a wonderful human being whom He loves. Even when I did not love myself, God loved me and had great plans for me. I had no idea as I stumbled through life where He was taking me. I just knew for sure that apart from HIM, I did not have many people on my side. Of course, I have had the privilege of having children and grandchildren and can now pass on the legacy of forgiveness, compassion, prayerfulness, tenacity, and perseverance to them.
So, as I pulled back the curtains to peep into the past 40 years, I felt like someone who had died and had the chance to return, to walk back through one’s past. Of course, I was overwhelmed with gratitude; I was also hopeful and expectant. In fact, I was buzzing with excitement and anticipation to see what God would do over the next several decades. Only time will tell, and only HE knows. I am thankful that He has the final say. Aren’t you? I am a Survivor!
Have you had a reunion or similar experience? Any reflections or comments to share based on my experiences? If yes, I would love to hear from you.