When I was in sixth grade, I got a demonstrable case of acne. And back in the day, the prescribed treatment was to avoid chocolate and to apply an alcohol-based stringent to my face twice a day.
Always the over-achiever, I applied at least four or five times a day resulting in a permanent tomato-hued face.
I was teased relentlessly.
I was teased quite cruelly.
From 6th grade until 8th grade – this group of girls tormented me. If you have read my blog entry entitled Cheer, you have read about another instance with these girls.
I met Marta at the beginning of 6th grade. She and her parents had recently moved to a neighboring town. Marta was adopted from Mexico as an infant. Her adoptive parents were considerably older than those of her peers and they were the kindest, most generous and adoring parents I have ever met. Marta was born with a severe cleft lip that required many, many surgeries before I met her and many after.
Marta and I hit it off right away. Certainly we hit it off for the obvious reasons – both of us feeling the need to hide our faces, which we talked about. But as in so many cases when one takes the time to get to know another, the reasons for our deepening friendship went way beyond the superficial.
I spent many, many days at Marta’s home. During a time when my own Mom was going back to work full-time and I was not particularly keen on taking care of my younger sister nor being home alone, Marta’s home became a haven to me and a place of nurture and sisterhood. It was a place to heal.
Marta and I continued to flourish in friendship until the beginning of 8th grade, when I did the unthinkable.
By the beginning of 8th grade, I had suffered under The Tormenters for almost two years. My parents had tried to get me transferred to other schools, but to no avail. My parents could not afford private school, so that was not an option. Also, around this time, one of my best friends from youth group had not invited me to her birthday party. It was a huge blow to me.
I was a MESS.
I do not remember how it happened, just that it did. The Tormenters had offered me an opportunity for conditional friendship.
All I had to do was vandalize Marta’s locker.
And I did.
And I have tears running down my cheeks as I write this.
I trusted The Tormenters that it would be anonymous.
However, they were waiting for Marta to arrive that Monday morning and they told her who had done it as soon as she saw it.
I did not find out until lunchtime.
Marta had already gone home for the day.
It turns out my mom and Marta’s mom were both reconcilers.
That very night, I brought cookies over to Marta’s home and Marta and I went into her room and we stayed there for what seemed like FOREVER and
And I listened, and I cried, and I apologized at least one million times.
Marta and I hugged.
Marta’s mom hugged me.
And that compelled me to cry all over again.
It took a long time for Marta to fully trust me again.
I broke things.
I broke things quite spectacularly.
We both knew it.
Marta was so wise beyond her years, and I learned more from her during that year than I have in most of my friendships even to date.
Marta did not let me get away with how I wronged her.
She had the courage to invite me in and share with me the ways in which I had hurt her. She shared her story with me, her own insecurities, and even though she had every reason to never trust me again and every reason to rescind her friendship –
A little over a week ago, I attended a conference – well, more like a retreat – that was hosted by SheLovesMagazine and entitled “Rise Up, Sister.”
On the first night, founder Idelette McVicker read to us their Manifesto, “Let Us Be Women Who Love”. If you have a chance, I urge you to find it and print it.
The first lines of the manifesto says this,
Let us be women who love.
Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words,
our sharp looks,
our ignorant silence and towering stance
and fill the earth now
with extravagant love.
At the end of my 8th Grade year, Marta and I hosted the most EPIC Graduation Party at her home. I am not kidding – it was amazing and we put an incredible amount of time and effort into it.
And, at Marta’s request,
we even invited
Marta was a bold and courageous example to me of what it means to live out this Manifesto.
She chose to love extravagantly.
How fortunate was I to know her.