Belonging

Category Archives: Belonging

Shoes on the Mantlepiece

There was once a very poor orphan who wanted nothing more in the world than to belong to a family. Finally, his opportunity came. He was eight years old and a family wanted to adopt him! Introductions were made, papers were signed, and just 6 days after his eighth birthday he left for his new home. He took with him his hope and his possessions – the old worn and torn clothes he was wearing and a single soft toy. His new parents were excited to have him with them, and wanted him to feel like one of the family. A special celebration dinner was held, he was given his own room, and he was introduced to the other kids in the street. His new parents took those old clothes, threw them away and bought him beautiful new clothes. They bought him a bike and more toys, and pretty soon he began to feel just like all the other kids in the neighbourhood, loved and part of a family. One thing however was curious. The young boy’s old shoes, the ones with the big holes in them, weren’t tossed out with the rest of his clothes. His new father placed them on the mantelpiece. It wasn’t long before the newly adopted son found out why. Every time that boy did something wrong his father would go and get those shoes and say “Look at all we’ve done for you. We took you in when you had nothing, but look at how you’ve behaved”

Unfortunately we do the same thing all too often in our relationships. We dredge up the past and throw it back in someone’s face, never letting them forget how much they’re in our debt. Forgiveness means throwing out the shoes as well as the clothes, refusing to dredge up the past and make it a reason for action in the present.

Roger

Tony Campolo tells the sad story from his high school days of how he failed to truly be a Christian. There was a boy in his class named Roger. Roger was gay. Everyone knew and tormented him for it. They heaped verbal and even physical abuse upon him. One day the abuse reached a crescendo. Five of boys dragged Roger into the shower room, shoved him into the corner and urinated all over him.

Around two o’clock the next morning Roger went down to the basement of his house and hung himself.

When they told Tony, he says he realized he wasn’t a Christian. He knew all the right answers and sincerely believed all the right things and had lots of good moral practises. But Tony didn’t live faith out when it came to  Roger. If he had he says he would have stood up for Roger when the others were mocking him, he would have been a friend, and just maybe, Roger would still be alive today.

Source; Reported in Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You A Story

Inside the Walls

It is said that during the Second World War some soldiers serving in France wanted to bury a friend and fellow soldier who had been killed. Being in a foreign country they wanted to ensure their fallen comrade had a proper burial. They found a well-kept cemetery with a low stone wall around it, a picturesque little Catholic church and a peaceful outlook. This was just the place to bury their friend. But when they approached the priest he answered that unless their friend was a baptised Catholic he could not be buried in the cemetery. He wasn’t.

Sensing the soldiers disappointment the priest showed them a spot outside the walls where they could bury their friend. Reluctantly they did so.

The next day the soldiers returned to pay their final respects to their fallen friend but could not find the grave. “Surely we can’t be mistaken. It was right here!” they said. Confused, they approached the priest who took them to a spot inside the cemetery walls. “Last night I couldn’t sleep” said the priest. “I was troubled that your friend had to be buried outside the cemetery walls, so I got up and moved the fence.”

 

Source: Unknown

Keeper of Secrets

At an international seminar held in Australia, Aboriginal speaker Eddie Kneebone explained the sense of importance his people were able to impart to their children when they still lived “in the old way on their land”. A feeling of insignificance or despair leading to suicide – all too common today among young adults – was unlikely then because of a unique custom:

At a certain predetermined time, a young person would be solemnly entrusted with a secret piece of knowledge-information that could prove vital to the tribe’s survival. It might be the location of a hidden waterhole in one area of their territory. It might be the medicinal powers of a certain plant. No one else in the tribe would be given that piece of important knowledge and when the time came, this young person would be expected to contribute it for the welfare of all.

“Imagine,” concluded Eddie, “what a sense of importance and belonging this custom gave our young people. Each of them had a unique place, each had an undeniably important role to play. Self-esteem and a sense of personal worth were the great benefits of this Aboriginal custom-long before any psychologist told us about these elements of healthy growth!”

Source: Reported in Catherine Hammond, Stories to Hold An Audience