Back some time ago I read an article that has stuck with me for the past two or three years and it was originally written by John W. Schlatter.
One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”
I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him.
He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.”
He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face.
It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me.
We walked all the way home, and I carried half his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.
Monday morning came and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books every day!” He just laughed and handed me half the books.
Kyle was valedictorian of our class four years later. He had to give a speech for graduation. Kyle looked great that day. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said. AS he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.
“Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.”
“I am going to tell you a story,” he said. I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story the first day we met.
He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable .” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.
Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse, God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way.
We are having 22 soldiers and veterans commit suicide every day and how often are we around some of these veterans or active duty personnel and miss the key symptoms. Let’s start paying closer attention to those signs that are coming our way because they usually are some signs.
Soldiers of the Cross Together,