In many ways, high school is one of the biggest challenges any of us will ever face. A lot of this has to do with ourselves than anything we actually experience during those four years. High school a strange nexus point of sorts, where young people are entering the peak of the physiological changes that will send them into adulthood. The trouble is, all those hormones and demands are colliding in a mind that’s still not fully capable of knowing the true meaning of it all.
To a teenager, very often it seems like everything is a matter of life or death. Every setback is the end of the world. While we’re not entirely sure if any of the players in the following story existed, we’re certain that moments like these have played out more than once in the world. It’s a good example of how even the smallest acts, good or bad, can have huge effects.
“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, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I had never hung out with a private school kid before. His name was Kyle. We talked all the way home, and I carried 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 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, “Darn, boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles carrying this pile of books every day!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going to study business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class.
I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.
On graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him! Boy, sometimes I was jealous.
Today was one of those days. 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.
I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of 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.”
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