The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 4
A Friend You Can Trust
by Greg Wright
When Daniel opened the door, he was delighted to see Billy. But, Billy was in a huff.
As Billy stared at Daniel, he scolded. "Boy, Bobby is really mad at you."
Daniel looked down. "I'm not surprised. The bigger kids never like me anyway. I'm used to it."
"I canít blame him," Billy continued. "He says Ross was ready to beat your brains out. Bobby stood up for you. You should at least have thanked him. Instead, you gave him the buzz off treatment."
"He interfered," Daniel countered. "Now, on top of being called Fifi, I'm Bobby's little boy Fifi. He just made things worse."
Billy continued. "Bobby was concerned that the bullies would give you a hard time. It looks like he was right. Although, Bobby did think you were really smart for writing down the serial number from the money they took. He just wants to keep them from picking on you. He just wants to help."
"That's just it Billy," said Daniel. "I can't let him help me; I can't let anyone help me. I can't afford to need anyone ever again! I've got to solve my own problems, by myself."
Billy looked down, puzzled.
Daniel continued. "Billy, you're a good kid and I enjoy being around you. But to be honest with you, if you were a big kid, I wouldn't want you here."
Wouldn't I be the same kid, just bigger?" Billy asked.
Daniel avoided his question and continued. "It's the same, everywhere I go. Back in Atlanta, I had friends my age who were girls, and I had friends, boys and girls, who were younger. But friendships with boys my age always fell apart.
"Why?" Billy asked.
"They might be friends at first. But, I would always do something to turn them off. Sometimes it was the way I hated and protested rough play. Other times, I didn't fit in just because I refused to join in on their vulgar jokes and comments. If that failed, my lack of skill and coordination in sports was sure to turn them off.
"I don't always like rough play," Billy commented. "I don't like it when it hurts. But, I still have friends my age, even older."
Daniel continued. "I would think they were my friends for awhile. But later, I would hear them laugh when others were joking about me. When they were disloyal, it always hurt, and I learned not to trust any of them."
Weren't there other guys who were like you?" Bobby asked.
"Yes there were," Daniel responded, "but those friendships never worked out, either. I never understood why. Eventually I learned that if I didn't want to get hurt, I had to get to the point of not needing anyone."
"Werenít you lonely and bored?"
"The academic things helped to make up for it. I rejoiced in being smarter than all of them. Sometimes I would dream of using my brains to get rich. I would see myself living in a big fine house while my ignorant peers worked in sweat shops. But having brains was never enough. What good did it do when everyday I would have to listen to comments like, 'Why don't you hike the ball like a man." or "You throw like a girl."
"I used to not throw so good," Billy interjected. "But Bobby says I get better every year."
"I had no one to practice with," continued Daniel. "So, I resigned myself from all sports, except when it was demanded in PE class. While others were out playing, running in the wind, and enjoying the sunshine, I listened to music, studied, played my violin, read, and trained my dog."
"Those are all good things too," Billy suggested.
"I would also dream," Daniel continued. "I would dream that I was big and strong. My hair would be straight, not these dumb curls. My skin would be dark brown, from lots of time playing sports under the sun. And I would join the fray, playing football and basketball. But, unlike them, I wouldn't be hard on the weaker players. I would be kind to them and encourage them."
"That's a nice dream," Billy said, "but I like your hair. Mine's so boring, another brown bowl cut."
"But Billy, I want to be different so much, it's become an embarrassment. When I go to the supermarket, I go to where the muscle magazines are, gazing enviously at the guys pictured there. Sometimes, when I see another kid who is big and strong, I look at him. But, I look too long."
"Hey kid, what are you staring at?" They say.
"It's very embarrassing. Sometimes, they accuse me of being gay. But it's not that at all. I just want what they have."
"I want big muscles like He Man," Billy admitted. "But, I think you have to be born with the ability to grow big muscles. Also, it helps to be a little older."
"Eventually," Daniel continued, "they added queer and fag to the names they called me at school. Sometimes, when I was really down, I wondered if they were right."
"No Daniel, they were wrong," Billy insisted.
"I know they were wrong," continued Daniel. "But sometimes, when you hear something enough, you start to believe it."
"Don't believe it!"
Daniel continued. "One day I thought my problems were over. There was a teenager in my neighborhood, also named Bobby, who was about four years older than me. We hit it off from the first time we met: he liked chess, I liked chess; he liked classical music, I liked classical music. But more, he was friendly and caring, not crude and shallow like the other guys. I really trusted him and spent many hours, after school, at his house. He was usually alone, since his parents had intense career jobs where they had to work late."
"So, are you still friends?"
"His friendliness was just a front. He used it to make me trust him so that he could eventually use me for his own evil pleasure. One day, when we were alone, he grabbed me and tried to hurt me. He was strong and I was really scared. But, I kicked him in the groin and ran out the door. Believe it or not, the next day he threw up his hand and waved at me like nothing had happened. But I had learned my lesson; I never let that guy near me again."
"Did you tell anyone?"
"No, I was too embarrassed. I didn't want anyone to know how stupid I had been."
"You weren't stupid, Daniel. This could have happened to anyone."
"Yes I was stupid. I was stupid for trusting him."
"No Daniel, listen to me. Last year a counselor lady came to talk to us about what to do if people ever hurt you or tried to take advantage of you. She said, over and over again, that it was not your fault. She also said to find an adult you could trust and tell him."
"I don't need to tell anyone. I've solved the problem. All I have to do is be self-sufficient, never need anyone, and never trust again. That way, I'll never again be hurt or disappointed."
"So, you think it was your fault that you got hurt?"
"Yes," Daniel said, sadly.
"You're wrong, Daniel. Bad things happen to good people and even to other smart people like you. You were surrounded by some real jerks at your school in Atlanta. That's not your fault. Maybe God knew you needed a break. Maybe he brought you here, just for that purpose."
"So far, itís not all that great."
"It can be better, but you have to give it a chance. There are people here who will be your friends, if you'll let them. Bobby's a good kid. You can trust him. Connie, a girl in your class, is the bravest, coolest girl I've ever known. She's also a Christian. She'll be a good friend. The Terlouws who live down the street, they're a great bunch of guys. They won't care how good you are in sports. They just play to have fun. This is a great place to live. Give us a chance to prove it to you. Let Bobby be your friend. Trust him."
"There's more to it than that, Billy. I'm sure Bobby meant well when he stood up for me against the bully. But when he did, it was one more painful reminder that I was not good enough, man enough, boy enough, adequate, whatever you want to call it, to take care of myself. That's what hurts me the most."
"Daniel, they were just bigger than you. Thatís all. Somewhere, there is someone bigger than them. But, that has nothing to do with being "boy enough".
"As far as everyone out there is concerned, itís everything," Daniel responded.
"But it isnít everything. What good is it to be big and strong if you donít care about people. What good is it to be big and strong if you lie and steal. Donít you see, Daniel, itís not how big and strong you are. But, itís your character that matters."
"Yes. You donít lie and steal. Youíre a fun guy when you let people get close to you. You care about other people and their feelings." You have great character traits."
"But, to really grow in character, you have to know Jesus. When he becomes your Lord and Savior, he changes you from the inside out. And, he pours Godís love into your heart so that you are able to love people you would otherwise hate. He changes you, sometimes all at once, sometimes over several years. But more than that, he fought and won against the biggest bully of them all."
"Who was that?"
"The biggest bully of them all is Satan. He hates your guts and wants you to burn in hell forever. Jesus fought against him and won."
"They had a fight?"
"Yes, and Jesus wants to fight for you. Daniel, do you know Jesus as a personal friend?"
"Iím not sure what you mean. Iíve gone to church most of my life and, as you implied, Iím a reasonably decent person."
"Have you ever given Jesus a chance to rescue you from the big bully, Satan?"
"Iíve met a lot of bullies, but I think Satan has pretty much left me alone."
"Satan hasnít left you alone; he will do anything possible to keep you out of heaven. Because we all have sinned, we were all doomed to burn in hell forever. Godís law requires that all sin be punished. His justice demands that no sin go unpunished."
"Great," Daniel said disgustedly, "life is hell then we die!"
"No, thereís good news!" Billy continued. "Because God loved us, he gave us a way out. We all know that Jesus never sinned. This allowed Jesus to do something no one else in the whole world could do. He offered his life, in place of ours. God was willing to punish Jesus instead of us."
"That doesnít seem fair," Daniel protested.
"It wasnít fair; it was love. God tricked the bully, Satan. He got him to kill Jesus, with the help of some soldiers, by beating him and nailing him to a cross. Satan thought he had destroyed Jesus forever. But God raised Jesus from the dead, and now he is seated beside God in heaven.
"Thatís pretty cool."
"Further, God is willing to accept Jesusí suffering as payment for our sins, past present and future. In him, we can all stand before God, perfect and spotless, as if we had never sinned or done stupid things. All Jesus requires us to do is turn away from our sins, trust him and make him our boss. Then, someday he will take us to heaven to live with him forever. Jesus offers heaven as a free gift."
"Yes. Daniel, Jesus wants to rescue you from the bully, Satan. But you have to trust him. This next part is going to be hard for you. You also have to admit that you can't rescue yourself. You can't be self-sufficient. Many people will try to get to heaven by being good enough on their own, but, sadly, they won't make it. One sin is enough to knock you out; it was enough to knock Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. Daniel, you've got to be willing to trust Jesus? Are you willing?"
"I've never thought about it like that. I donít know."
"Bobby learned to trust Jesus a couple of years ago. That's why he stood up for you, not because he especially liked you, but because Bobby is committed to doing the right thing for Jesus, no matter what it costs him personally."
"Jesus is a friend you can trust. He will never let you down. Can you admit that you need him? Are you willing to trust him?"
"I hear what youíre saying," Daniel responded. "But, this is too much at once. Iím not ready, yet. Let me think about it."
"Okay Daniel," Billy said solemnly. "But donít wait too long. Donít wait too long."