“One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn’t have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafón

FROM my experience as a child, I can say that time heals wounds.

Being accused wrongly even at a young age was a painful memory that took years for me to get over.

When I was five and on my first grade, I dreamed of excelling in school and tried to set myself apart from the ordinary child’s preoccupations. While my classmates enjoyed toys, I read books voraciously.

My classmates misunderstood me for always being alone and studious. Being on top of the class made them think that I was egocentric.

Even my best friend eventually hated me. He once asked me to lend him my notes for the next day’s test but I refused since I would also be using them for review. I felt abused when I had to lend notes to others who had been busy chatting in class while I was dutifully noting down the lectures.

My best friend thought that I was being inconsiderate and insensitive. Disappointed, he began accusing me of cheating. To my disgust, my classmates readily believed him and this went on for years in our cream section until I reached the sixth grade.

Back then, my classmates questioned every accomplishment I made. Sometimes the attacks were very personal. They threw harsh words at me everytime I entered school. Finally, everybody left me. I was all alone and I would cry every night.

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Just as my peers turned their backs at me, my ever supportive parents stood by my side. They lightened the burden that I was carrying. I shared with them all my troubles. They advised me to be patient and strong. I also turned to God and opened my heart to him.

I became determined to pursue my academic endeavors with Christian dignity. I proved to my enemies that I wasn’t a cheater.

Everytime I went to school, I kept smiling even with the hard words thrown at me. I mingled with my classmates who hated me most. I turned to them, saying words that I know would please them, making them realize that I was not bad at all. And when they would leave, I followed them with a smile on my face.

I kept my grievances to me until our class went to a recollection before our elementary graduation. When I was told to tell them things I wanted to share, I began crying while recounting how terrible they had made me feel. But between sobs, I also asked for pardon and understanding.

I ended my revelation by crumpling a money bill, saying, “No matter how this paper is crumpled, it won’t lose its value!”

Graduation came and I was still not happy because I didn’t know if I succeeded convincing them of my innocence. As I delivered my valedictory address, I bravely thanked them for being rude to me. I said that without my classmates, I would never have been challenged to do what I did to gain their trust and to move on. After my address, my batchmates gave me a standing ovation. They approached me and shook my hand, congratulating me for the honors I received.

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I realized that even as a child, I could handle responsibilities. I believed that even Christ as a child might also have been rejected by his friends because he was different. My ordeals were of course incomparable with what Christ suffered, but at least liked him, I learned in my childhood years to stand for the truth.

As I look back, I laugh at my elementary school memories. I thought of these as petty things compared to what I am experiencing now. Truly, life is but a continuous challenge. What you learn from the past are just steps to cope with the struggles of the present.

Time is certainly an endless progress.

PRAYER: Almighty Father, thank You for teaching me to be mature even at an early age. Thank You for training me to appreciate hard work and patience. May You teach young people to bring out the positive values for their personal and spiritual growth. Let them feel that You are always beside them to guide and care. Amen. Francis James B. Gatdula

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