Friends at Last

    “Friends at Last,” New Era, Aug. 2002, 27

    Friends at Last

    She was the ringleader of the group that tormented me. Now I was supposed to do WHAT for her?

    Whenever I heard the bell ring for lunch, I dreaded going to my locker. My locker was at the end of the hall, so I had to hurry to catch up with my friends. Every day was the same. I always ran into my tormentors just as I was about to reunite with my friends.

    The group of six girls would pass me, swearing at me, calling me names, and openly loathing my existence. Though I pretended not to care, day by day the names and taunts tore at my heart and caused my self-esteem to plummet.

    “Why me?” I thought. Out of everyone in the school, why did they single me out? I had never done anything to any of them, yet I was their victim.

    Every day I would come home from school, torn apart. My mom would faithfully sit me down and pick up the pieces of my tattered self-esteem. She told me she loved me and that the girls were just jealous. I only nodded, not believing her in the slightest.

    Often I would flee to my scriptures. Nothing brought relief as they did. One day I read Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

    That night as I knelt in prayer, I changed the words I usually spoke. Instead of asking the Lord to help me avoid or conquer my “enemies,” I asked Him to bless them. I asked that they would know they were loved and that they might be as lucky as I was to have the true gospel that could help them.

    I continued to pray for them every night. I knew they were so lost, so miserable with life. What would it be like to be in their situation? I prayed and prayed. It seemed nothing was happening.

    Just as I was ready to give up all hope, I received a call from my friend’s mother. She asked me to come to a new-member discussion with a girl my age so she could get to know some girls in the ward. I agreed, willing to help and excited at the idea of a new friend.

    I got to my friend’s house a little early. I was ecstatic to meet the new girl and welcome her. I’ll never forget my feelings when the new girl walked in and we made eye contact. It was her, the ringleader of my tormentors. We awkwardly shook hands and sat at opposite ends of the room. The lesson went quickly. I cannot remember anything that was said.

    As I sat in my room that night, I was so full of emotions I thought I would explode. Confusion, embarrassment, joy, and discomfort all crowded into my being.

    At first this girl and I kept our distance at church. I still harbored negative feelings about her, and I didn’t know what to say when we encountered one another. I felt that way until the day she bore her testimony. It was so strong and passionate. I knew I should try harder to be her friend. She had such a love for the gospel, and I wanted that for myself, more than I already had. I began to compliment her and make small talk every time we met.

    Though it took another year and a half for us to become friends, I wouldn’t trade our friendship for anything. I have such a love for her now. Her testimony and quiet strength amaze me. The change I saw in her leaves me in awe. She is my living witness that our prayers are answered.

    Illustrated by Scott Greer