When I was young, I wasn’t very confident. I was the quiet kid who was glued to a book or things that I knew like sports. I preferred hanging out in small groups instead of loud, large ones, so when a kid in my class told me that he wanted to partner with me on the large group project that our teacher had assigned and that he wanted to be my friend, I felt excited. Lane (name changed) wanted to partner with me.
I had been dreading the assignment. Who would I ask to partner with me? If I didn’t pick anyone, who would the teacher assign me to work with? Would we get along? How would we divvy up the work? What would happen if we ran into any disagreements?
On top of that, Lane was somebody that other kids looked up to. For the lack of a better word, he was a big man on campus, smart, athletic, and seemed to have the run of the place.
I remember walking to my next class and relief running through my body. I felt like a huge weight (i.e. a huge backpack) had been lifted from my shoulders. I wouldn’t have to fret over the choice.
Finally a real partner
The next day though I was in for a surprise. When the teacher started going around to each kid in the class asking who they were going to be working with, I broke out into a smile. For once, I had a partner.
However, when the teacher got to Lane, instead of saying my name, he gave the teacher another guy’s name. As soon as I heard the other kid’s name, my smile vanished. I was shocked and confused. We had a deal. We had an agreement. We even shook hands on it.
Of course, when it got to me, I had to say I didn’t have a partner. I felt like the biggest loser in the class.
During lunch, I practically ran up to Lane to ask what happened. He acted like he never remembered our conversation. He let out a little laugh and went back to eating his lunch. I instead asked a teacher for permission and slinked to a bathroom stall and cried my eyes out.
I was crushed. I felt set-up. He told me one thing and did the exact opposite. We all have moments in our lives where we’re get pushed down and have to work our way back up the mountain.
In time I got over the incident, but when I think about it, I always question why it had to happen in the first place. Why do humans treat each other so horribly. We lie, we cheat, we gossip. Dig deep enough and you find that we’ve all got a miniature Pandora’s box full of evils that we’ve unleashed onto the world.
Finding a way back up the mountain
If the story ended there, it would be pretty depressing. But like the mythological Greek tale, we’re also full of hope. Pandora slammed the lid of the box back down. Greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, among others escaped, but she was able to save hope.
Yes, Lane ended up ditching me, but when the teacher came to me and I looked down to the floor and meekly told him that I did’t have a partner, two other kids raised their hands and said they would have me on their team. I barely knew the kids, but they stood up for me.
Once the shock of the moment was over, once I had a chance to regroup, I remember being so thankful to the two holding out an olive branch of hope when I needed it the most.
Yes, kids can be mean, yes, adults can be even meaner, but if you look hard enough there’s always hope. God always gives us hope. Decades later, I still hold tightly to that idea, there’s always hope.