13 was a rough year for me. I was an awkward, shy teen, super skinny, with braces and natural wavy hair that I had no idea what to do with. I had given my life to Christ when I was 10 years old and tried my best to stay strong in my relationship with Him. Unfortunately, that also seemed to mean that I didn’t have many friends. The couple that I did have attended my church, but we all lived too far apart to hang out much.

My family moved to a new city right before I was to start 8th grade. I wanted so much to fit in, but it felt like I had a target on my back from day one. I hated going to school and I’m pretty sure I cried myself to sleep for the first few weeks. If you have ever been bullied, my heart goes out to you. People can be so cruel.

One spring day, I found myself in front of the neighbor’s house with a group of kids. We were all joking around and just hanging out. I’m not sure why or even what was said, but the conversation took a turn. A couple of the kids began to talk about Christians and started making fun of them. I kind of backed off a bit and tried to blend in. This was my chance to fit in, to have friends, perhaps if I just sat quiet, the conversation would change. Only it didn’t, it got worse. Someone spoke up and pointed to me, “Jean is a Christian,” they exclaimed. The whole group grew silent, all eyes turned to me. “Are you?” the leader asked. I hesitated and blurted out, “No I’m not.”

I will never forget how alone I felt in that moment. The conversation went on, but I don’t remember anything that happened after that. The story of Peter’s denial of Christ flashed through my mind. “Oh God, forgive me,” my heart silently cried out. Just like Christ forgave Peter so long ago, He forgave me on that day. His forgiveness never runs out and nothing is too horrible for Him to forgive.

Though I probably didn’t understand it very well at the time, Christ understood my situation. He knew what it was like to be bullied and made fun of. He knew what it was like to stand alone. He went through that and so much more so that we might know Him and have eternal life through Him.

These are tough times we are going through, but God’s word promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. His forgiveness is available, no matter what you’ve done or where your heart is. All you have to do is ask.

I pray that your eyes will be opened to the love of our heavenly Father, and this Easter season will be one of new beginnings for all who read this.

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