There was a girl who was given many things to make her happy.
But life also held many difficult things that hurt her and made her sad.
Then, one day, the little girl became a young woman.
And she began to think deeply about those things.
She realized people who were close to her often did things that hurt her.
More time went by and more painful things happened.
The young woman did not know what to do with the pain other people had caused
. . . were causing.
She never stopped thinking about it and then one day, she realized her joy was gone, like a butterfly blown away in a strong gust of wind.
Everyone who knew her realized it, too.
There were smiles, here and there, but like a blanket that is too heavy and disturbs sleep, a thick cloud of sadness covered everything she did.
The more she thought about all the wrongs that befell her, the more important that list of grievances became.
Day by day she would think about those grievances,
How hurt she was by The List,
How angry The List made her.
Then one day, when she was sitting and thinking about The List of wrongs she had endured,
The List began strangely, slowly to change. The woman didn’t notice but it became a comfort, a friend, and finally, The List turned into . . . . . . .
a Teddy Bear.
Teddy wasted no time and hugged her tightly, comforting her breaking heart.
The woman hugged Teddy back. The pain was so intense but the hug felt so good.
How comforting it was to look into Teddy’s understanding, supportive eyes
And to know that Teddy knew how she felt,
That Teddy cared,
That Teddy understood.
And Teddy convinced her that he cared about the pain
More than anyone else.
The woman never stopped hugging Teddy.
She loved Teddy and took him everywhere she went.
To the park, to church, to the grocery store, to work…
Everyone who came to know the woman came to know Teddy, too.
And, even at night when she went to bed,
She kept hugging Teddy.
One day, the woman carried Teddy passed a shop she had never before noticed.
She looked through the window and saw a three-way mirror.
Something inside said, “Go in and see.”
“You had better not,” Teddy warned sharply,
‘That mirror is dangerous and will bring you even more pain.”
The woman thought for a minute.
She certainly didn’t want more pain.
So, she listened to her old, trusted friend and walked the other way as Teddy gave an approving snuggle.
The woman forgot about the mirror.
Years later, she and Teddy found themselves on a vaguely familiar street.
Suddenly, they were in front of the store with the dangerous mirror.
Her thoughts wrestled with each other. “I want to look at that mirror. Should I go in? I’m not sure.”
The clerk could see through the window that the woman wanted to come in but was afraid.
So, he came and opened the door and invited the woman to come in.
Teddy was frantic, “Don’t listen to him! Don’t go, don’t go in!”
But this time, it was too late.
The woman was already stepping up onto the stand in front of the three-way mirror.
Because Teddy had frightened her, it was scary to look straight into the mirror.
Then, the clerk adjusted the two side mirrors so she could have a view that she had never seen before.
Were her eyes playing tricks? It was almost impossible to believe.
She suddenly saw why Teddy didn’t want her to look into the mirror.
As she looked to the side and could see her back,
Where Teddy was hanging on,
She suddenly realized the source of all her pain.
Teddy wasn’t merely hugging her.
Teddy’s long black claws punctured her clothes and were digging into her back.
She looked at the clerk with fear and questioning in her eyes.
He looked back at her with compassion but answered,
“Only you can touch the bear.”
Suddenly she grabbed Teddy to pull him away.
It was very difficult to get Teddy to let go.
The woman began to cry and then to sob at the pain, the betrayal, the destruction, and wrongness of it all, but . . . now she was determined, and said firmly,
“I thought you were my friend, Teddy.
You pretended to care about me
But you have been my enemy all along.
I won’t be your friend any more.”
She tore Teddy off of her back but he didn’t let go easily. His claws ripped her skin and tore her clothes but she didn’t give up.
Finally she was able to set him down, starring at him as if for the first time.
The little girl inside the woman began to cry again, harder this time.
With tear-filled eyes, she regarded the Clerk, standing nearby
And then he asked, ‘What are you going to do now?’
The Woman turned to Teddy and said firmly, “Goodbye, Teddy.”
For the first time she could remember, the woman felt as if she might smile on the inside.
Then the Clerk unexpectedly held in an outstretched hand a dazzling white dress.
“For me?” the woman asked in amazement.
Her fingers hesitantly reached out to touch it but quickly withdrew.
She looked down, doubtful, ashamed.
“I could never afford that . . . it’s too good for someone like me.”
With a gentle hand, the Clerk reached down and lifted her chin until their eyes met
“I know, you can’t. But, it gives me pleasure to give it to you. Won’t you receive it?”
Indicating the dressing room with the other hand.
The woman emerged from the changing room, her eyes filled with wonder to see the old, torn rags she had so recently been willing to wear against the garment that now marked her every step with grace and beauty.
She smiled, her eyes sparkling with deepest gratitude at the Clerk, then she looked down at the old, torn dress and suddenly tossed it into the corner with Teddy.
She stepped into the street and began laughing, with tears streaming down her face
Because she had found forgiveness, because she was free.
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