Irretrievable Words

The writing bug bit me when I was a mere seven-years-old.  I experienced “the zone” while writing a report on horses. In my mind, it was brilliant. I was the next Louisa May Alcott; writing energized me.

Several years later, while working on a creativity badge for Pioneer Girls, I wrote a poem on friendship.  All the girls in my troop were earning the same badge so the leader chose to read them aloud. When she came to mine, she said, “I don’t like that one,” and tossed it aside. I was stunned, hurt and humiliated. Just because I wrote a terrible poem didn’t give her the right to publicly humiliate me. Her words penetrated deeply and anchored into a hidden part my soul.  My shame was so great; I prayed the earth would swallow me up.

I was too ashamed to tell my parents, but my sister did. Mom was outraged; she called the leader, demanding justice.  I received a personal phone call within the hour. Though I accepted her apology, I discovered that painful words are irretrievable.  In her attempt to compensate, she decided to have it read aloud at the annual Pioneer Girls conference.
As I heard my name called, I slunk deep into my chair. In a sea of five hundred sky blue uniforms, I was finally able blend in. Then, horror of horrors, someone spoke each despicable word into the microphone.


by Janet Hasselblad
Friends are nice for eating rice,
Friends can make a rose as big as a nose,
Friends can be big or as fat as a pig
But friends are friends.

Nearly 39 years later, while some good friends were over, I shared this story though I hadn’t thought of it in years.

 “I think it’s great,” she said.
I was shocked, “Really?” My mom, sister and gramma all said they loved it. I thought they were just being nice. But this was a trusted friend.  I felt the shame wash off, amazed that it had lingered all these years. God used a relaxing game night to cleanse me of false shame.

Photo by Tonya Vander Copyright 2009


The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. - Psalm 34:19

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