The coward watched from the sidelines, envious of the athlete’s endurance and strength. If only he had the same physique, he would do even more. He wouldn’t bully others who were less than him and he wouldn’t take his beautiful girl for granted. No, he would be different.
The coward stared harshly at the boy he had known since grade school. They had been great friends once, inseparable and comfortable together. That had all changed when she had moved in; the girl three houses down.
She was special, and he was sure she was meant for him. His young mind made much of the fact that she moved so close to him. He believed it could not be coincidence. Just being near her brought him a sense of great happiness but also a strange uncertainty and awkwardness.
In school as his eyes wandered about the classroom, purposely seeking a glance at her, he noticed that she seemed to stare as well, but at his best friend. His friend was fortunately disinterested and completely put off by girls. Afraid to be second or even worse – rejected; he decided to wait for her to lose interest in his friend.
Over the next year the coward became a close friend, and often helped her. More than once he had noticed her looking at him in class, or that she smiled more when he was around, but assumed it was nothing. He wasn’t going to be made the fool. The day came when she asked a question that invited honesty, the moment he had hoped for.
He had prepared a speech, but his mind went blank and he panicked. His courage gone, he stammered a lie and botched the meaning horribly. Her smile fell and as she looked away he knew he had hurt her. He tried to explain, but saw that it was too late. He had injured her pride by explaining the reason he helped her was she needed him to pass the class.
Over the next year she slowly faded from his life, immersing herself in her schoolwork. She seemed determined to prove that she was capable of doing well in school without him. He tried to maintain the friendship, but was too afraid of rejection to say much when they spoke. She surpassed many in her class with better grades and impressive test scores. Her hard work was noticed; and over the next year she became sought after as a tutor.
He was devastated when he heard that the girl of his dreams had agreed to tutor his best friend. The girl who was once so close barely spoke to him; and now the two people he wished to never notice the other were alone together studying. As she was the one with knowledge, his friend seemed to realize she was useful, and because of that, interesting.
It was a long few weeks before he gathered courage to ask his friend about her. His stomach churned at the thought of words that might validate his fears. He struggled between not wanting to know; and the terrible tension of the unknown. He chose his words carefully to seem disinterested while discovering the truth.
It was as he had feared. His friend who had never found girls very interesting had realized there was something different about them, and some of it was good. His stomach burned and twisted as he listened to his friend scheme the best way to her heart, but said nothing. He was too afraid to admit his own feelings.
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—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
“For this is he that was spoken of”
John the Baptist is the ‘he’ referenced in Matthew 3:3. He was born with a purpose. He was meant for great things, his parents knew that and undoubtedly told him from the time he was a small child. Knowing you have a destiny can be a weight to bear, but also a source of purpose. Not every person can claim to know they have any purpose or reason for living, even with all the technology and knowledge of today. Some people talk of ‘destiny’ and while they still have no idea of their own purpose, believe others revolve around them. In this story I explored the assumption that someone is ‘meant for you’ and what a mess we can make of our own dreams. Although it is easy to look at others and what they mean; that won’t answer your own need for purpose.
Many people come to a point where they realize they really don’t know why they are here at some time or another. “What would it matter” they ask, “if I was gone tomorrow?” In truth, we live a life that is just like a shadow. It leaves no mark, it has no ability to move on its own. We may believe ourselves in control, but we cannot decide even when to stop breathing; let alone to truly stop an addiction, or suddenly become dedicated at practicing some talent or skill.
This realization can be abrupt or over a long period, but it is depressing either way. The yearning to matter, to feel appreciated and necessary is so painful when it is unmet. I believe this is why everyone runs faster today than ever before, seeking fulfillment everywhere and finding only entertainment. We are born with a part of us missing, and that part is God. We need a spiritual element, we need the certainty of that, the trust in something bigger. I wish those who are dissatisfied to have just a little glimpse of this reality. To see that all the searching was not in vain, and our purpose was and is to find communion (oneness) with God – to restore the missing part of us.
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