John 15.12-I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you.
John 15.13-And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their loves for their friends.
Eric heard the outside door being opened and struggled to sit up. He tried to smile but his mouth couldn’t fully cooperate. His jaws were in so much pain to stretch. However, this couldn’t dampen his spirits. Finally they had come to see him. He told Ethan they would come, Ethan didn’t believe him. It was late in the evening. He had been waiting for them the whole day. The wait was finally over. They were here!
The smile died instantly when the door to his room was opened and he saw who was on the other side.
One simple word slipped out of his mouth. One small word loaded with disappointment, humiliation, and…what was that again? Relief.
‘Me.’ Ethan rested his weight on the door frame casually and let out a big smile.
‘What are you doing here?’ Eric asked as he turned his back on Ethan.
‘Well, I figured you haven’t left your bed the whole day. So I thought you might need something to eat. Your body needs food. So does your sour mood. Maybe food will lighten you up.’
Eric looked at him and scowled. He hated the fact that Ethan was right and he knew it.
Eric ate as Ethan watched, drumming his hands on the table as if he owned the world.
‘They didn’t come.’ It wasn’t a question. It was not a taunt either. Just an honest observation.
‘No.’ Eric was tired of defending his friends in front of Ethan. If they really cared, they would have come to see him at least once. Even his girlfriend seemed to have ghosted him.
‘You win. Okay Ethan? They have abandoned me. They are not gonna show up. So if this is a game you have been playing, well, no need to play it anymore. You have already won.’
Ethan looked at him but didn’t say anything for a long time. By now, Eric had given up on his food and pushed it aside. Finally Ethan spoke up.
“Do you now see what I have been telling you Eric? I’m not playing games. I just wanted you to see the truth for yourself.”
“And what truth is that. Huh?”
“Those guys you walk around with? That girl you show off to anyone who cares to see? They are not true friends to you. If they were true friends, you wouldn’t have spent an entire week with no one but an irritating neighbor for company. If they were your true friends, you wouldn’t be stuck to your bed in the first place. See Eric, you guys stay together because, well, you are cool. As long as you are cool, they will love you. But now since they see you as nothing but a weakling, they don’t need you in their gang anymore.”
A week ago, Eric tried to commit suicide. Ethan had found him in his room, unconscious, with cut wrists. He rushed him to the hospital and the doctors were able to save him in time. When he was discharged, he told Ethan the entire story. The fights at home, how his dad was arrested for beating up his mom and almost killing her. He told him of how his grades have been dropping, and how as a result he had received a letter from the school administration, telling him that he had been discontinued from his studies. All these burdened him out, pushing him to attempting suicide.
As soon as his friends found out that he tried to commit suicide, they ditched him. He was no longer cool enough. And with his dad in prison, he could no longer afford the kind of life they were used to. They had no need for him anymore.
“Thank you so much for ‘opening my eyes’ Ethan. Now that we both know the truth, you can go away. I definitely do not need your pity.” Eric said as he left the table and painfully walked to his room. Ethan followed him and stood at the door as before.
“You still don’t get it, do you? I’m not here because I pity you. I may be nobody to you but you know what? I still care about you. I am here because you deserve a lil bit of help, we all do. See, friends may not have changed the situation at home. But definitely they would have given you the strength to carry you through.”
“Why are you always so eager to help others Ethan? Don’t you have troubles of your own to keep you busy?”
Ethan laughed, “Well, I definitely have my own problems. But I have someone who helps me so that I don’t have to do it alone. I have a great friend who helped me at my lowest, He gave his all just for me. Literally laid down his life for me. And because of what He did for me, it made me realize that living for yourself is such an empty life. Helping others, lifting others…that is what makes life worthwhile. That’s why I do it.”
Eric looked at him stunned. “You are talking about Jesus, aren’t you? I haven’t heard someone talk about God in such a way.”
“Well buddy, Jesus is very real to me. As real as you are. We’ll talk more about him later but for now, rest up.” Ethan turned and went to his own room.
Eric stared at the door for a long time. ‘A friend who lays his own life for me? I would surely want such a friend.’ He thought as he switched off the lights.