As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17
We all need heroic examples of people unafraid to make the first move. Few of us are those movers—the ones who’ll dash out, daring, and blaze the way. But we want to be, and our dreams in the daytime and while we’re sleeping are often made up of great acts of bravery: saying what we really think, standing up for what’s right, doing what no one else is brave enough to do, and coming through with the conviction and truth necessary to make a difference.
But instead, we live our waking hours with our heads down in the mundane and our hopes high in something different, and we expect a difference to be made someday by someone. Maybe us. But not right now.
I see the hesitation in myself—that fear of being a fool for Christ’s sake or, even worse, a fool for my own ego. I want to be the one that stands up but I also want everyone to be comfortable, safe, tolerated.
Last week I took my youngest son and his friend to a Civil War Reenactment. It was set-up day and the actors were in costume, but they were not fully immersed in their roles yet. It was a day of demonstrations and education—how to properly prime and fire a canon, how to pull a tooth with no anesthesia, how to march in formation.
At one of the tents sat a gentleman and his wife, volunteers with the reenactment for years, playing a fiddle and guitar. It was dance music of the Civil War era and a group of moms and children stood listening, some of them starting to dance. My son and his friend were the oldest of the children around, being surrounded by mostly toddlers and young elementary kids, and all of a sudden I saw that my son was too cool.
I’d never noticed it quite this clearly before, but he was too cool to dance, too cool to enjoy music he wasn’t used to, and too cool to get into the moment.
But not his friend.
His friend grabbed him by the crook of the arm and swung him around, stomping in a circle and making up the moves as the music went on. My son may have cracked a smile and might have enjoyed himself, but his friend most definitely was having a blast.
These are the kind of friends I want for my kids, and the ones I hope they’ll be. When the stakes are higher than dancing a jig with a bunch of little kids, I hope my children will have the conviction needed to make the first move and lead.
On the drive home I saw a minivan pulled to the side of the road. A couple teenagers in bright orange vests were out, getting their bags ready and receiving instructions from what I assumed to be their mom.
I thought about what it would be like if one kid among his peers stood up and announced how cool it would be to clean-up the roads, to organize his buddies into a party of orange-vest-wearing-comrades and make a sport out of trash clean-up.
Moms could be involved, too, because moms are cool like that.
Sometimes all it takes for something to be “cool” is one excited person who is really just being themselves, no pretense or striving, no trying to impress a majority.
Even as adults, we still carry the same people-pleasing, follow-the-crowd tendencies that made us think blue eye shadow and 6-inch high bangs were a good idea in Middle School. We still struggle between standing out and fitting in and we’re still looking for someone to get excited about life.
Maybe all it takes to move us is one enthusiastic person. Someone to grab us by the crook of the arm and stir us up to love and good works. We can be those people. We can even just do our regular stuff with gusto—no complaints about the kids, no lamenting the busyness of our life.
We don’t have to be annoyingly enthusiastic, please. We would cross a line if we thought everyone had to be as excited as we are.
But if we’re going to be fools, we can at least be enthusiastic fools.