Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Circle of Friends

Let's try some fiction.

There was a boy named Jimmy, living down the hill from town. He was a poor boy, but he amused himself quite easily, walking along the creek near his house and watching all the things that God created doing the things they were created to do. He would see a stone splitting the water in two, but then two halves come together seamlessly on the other side of the stone, and he would wonder how that works. If he tore a bit of cloth, he could not mend it again, and when his mother mended it for him, he would be able to see the stitch, but water didn't have any. He followed an any, just to see where it would go, and it traveled for about a mile along the creek, walking without break with its six little legs, until it came upon candy bar wrapper washed ashore. It took a bit of chocolate off the wrapper and turned around and went back the way it came. Jimmy didn't mind not having the nice clothes or living outside of town. He actually considered himself luckier than those other boys who poked fun at him at school, but were afraid to walk in the mud. When they did make fun of him, he would try and get them dirty. This was great fun to Jimmy.

One day, a man in a fine suit was walking down the road from town. As he passed Jimmy's house, he tipped his hat. Jimmy, who was catching a frog in the front yard, waved back. Jimmy watched as the man walked by and notices something odd about him. He had a tail. It was like a cat tail, brown and furry, and swayed as the man walked. Jimmy forgot all about the frog he was catching and followed this man at a distance. He wanted to ask about the tail, but he didn't want to seem rude. In fact, he wished he had a tail. He didn't want to blend in with the other humans in town, so he stayed dirty and if he had a tail, that would make him look even less like them.

The man stopped and turned around. Jimmy stopped where he was too. "Are you following me?"

"I was wondering, and I don't want to be rude, but how come you have a tail?"

"Oh this?" The man plucked his tail from the air as if he was picking fruit from a tree. "Everyone in my family has one of these." He smiled, took off his hat, and bend down to be eye level with Jimmy, even though they were still quite far apart. "You see, I only look like a human. In fact, I'm a Tribarn and I'm only here on business.

"What kind of business?" Jimmy has so many other questions that tried to come out at once. That question was the only one that came out.

"I came to buy this suit." He stood up at full length and straightened out his vest and tie. "What do you think? Is it the finest in town? We have nothing like this back at home."

"I don't like it." Says Jimmy. "You can't get those suits dirty and you always get dirty when you play. It may look nice to you, but it looks like a prison to me."

The man frowned for a minute as he thought about Jimmy's answer. "I see your point. But if you play all the time and get dirty, which may be fun, people look at you and they don't think about how much fun you have, but they think of how dirty you are and they don't want to touch you."

"Because they don't want me to get their suits dirty." said Jimmy.

"That's right." Said the man, "But some people just don't like being dirty." He knelt down again and with his finger, drew a circle in the dirt with his finger. "Take a look at this circle. This circle represents the people that care about you enough to listen to you. In it, you have your mother and father," he dropped a couple of rocks in the circle he drew. "Here's me," he dropped in another rock, "and is there anyone else?" He picked up a few more rocks to drop in the circle.

Jimmy thought about the stone in the water, the ant by the creek, the frog in the front yard. "There's no one else, sir." Jimmy said. I like being by myself.

"Then you will always be. But you see, if you want friends, you have to care less about what you like, having fun and getting dirty, and more about what they like."

"But they make fun of me."

"Well I never said that you had to be their friends, but if you would rather have friends than enemies, that's how you would get them."

"So I have to pretend to like their stuff?"

"Nope, but in wanting to be friends with them, if you really care, you will end up liking their stuff just because you like them."

"But what if I don't want any friends. They're a bunch of snobs. They don't deserve to have a friend like me."

"Anger hurts the angry person the most. If you stay enemies, they will gather together to talk about how dirty you are and they will have a laugh, but you will be over here by yourself being angry."

Jimmy stood silent.

The man stood back up, wiped the dust from his fingers, and put his hat back on. "Well, it's been nice chatting with you. I must be going now. Have a wonderful day." The man walked down the road, around the bend, and out of sight. Jimmy stood there are stared at him until dark.

Later that night, while Jimmy was in bed, he thought about what the man had said. His words swam through his thoughts like goldfish in a tank, always circling, never stopping. The next day at school, when the other boys came over to make fun of him, Jimmy spoke up first before they had a chance. "Why don't you like to get dirty?"

"Because we don't want to mess up these nice clothes." The oldest boy said.

"But don't you like to play?" Jimmy asked

"Of course."

"Then why do you make fun of me if I get to do what you want to do, but can't."

The oldest boy brought his finger to his lips and thought for a minute. "I don't know."

"Do you have any clothes you can play in?" Jimmy asked.

"Yeah, we have play clothes at home."

"Wanna come over after school and catch frogs?"

From that day on, Jimmy had friends to share his discoveries with. He led them on hikes and expeditions to discover the creations of God. They searched the forests all around for the man with the tail, but they never saw him again, but that afternoon, Jimmy went out to that road where they spoke, and dropped a bunch of rocks in the circle.

1 comment:

J said...

ahhh Jimmy...you have discovered what I have only in middle age found out. It often hurts to open yourself to others. It takes work. It is so much easier to limit intrusions into the circle...to keep others at arms length. However, when we place a limit on those whom we allow into our sphere of influence/ministry (2 Corinthians 10) we directly contravene God's purpose/will for our lives. More simply, how in the world can we follow Jesus' command to "LOVE others" when we don't let "others" anywhere near us? Way to go Jimmy!!