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Invitation From a “Weirdo”

by Serena Stevens

I ignored my conscience and lashed out at Lars, the socially creepy guy who’d asked me to the banquet. “I won’t go!” I screamed.

 “I wish you had just been honest with me—you didn’t have to lie. I’m highly disappointed in your actions.”

I raised my head from behind my computer screen to search for the flowery voice. It was Lars.1 My eyebrows rose as my stomach sank. “What?”
“I wish you had just been honest,” he repeated, trembling. “I can’t seem to comprehend what circumstances could have led to your actions.”
“What are you talking about?” I tried to inject as much scorn as possible into my voice to deter him from the inevitable.
“If you didn’t want to go to the banquet with me, you didn’t have to lie. Trevor told me that you hate me.” He sighed woefully.
“Yeah, I really don’t know what you’re talking about, Lars.” I resumed typing my paper.
“Serena,” he began, “you—” the bell rang, effectively cutting off his final words.
I seized the chance for escape. My rush to the door was interrupted by a solid obstruction—Lars. “I truly believe this is a matter that we must discuss!” he stated. “However else shall we remove the barrier from our relationship?”
“Lars,” I said calmly, “let me through.”
“I simply cannot.”
“Let me through!” I screamed and pushed past his awkward frame.
I ran down the hall, but clunky footsteps were gaining on me. As I approached a group of girls chatting by the bathroom, I screamed to them, “Get him away from me!” and rushed past them into the bathroom.
Lars halted outside the door, panting. He gasped for breath and announced to the girls, between heaves, how morose he felt about this sudden development in my character. 
I didn’t lie—or did I? 
I didn’t lie. Not really. I never told Lars I wanted to go to the banquet with him. On the contrary, I told him I didn’t want to go. And maybe I did tell a couple of friends (or the whole school) that I thought he was creepy. It wasn’t hurting him any, was it? So what if I told my cousin Trevor that I wished Lars would just leave me alone? It’s a free country, right?
Lars was banging on the bathroom door now. “I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave the confines of the restroom and discuss this matter!” he bellowed.
I cowered behind the door. There’s another way out. If I go through the locker room, maybe I can escape him! As I mentally traced the route, a voice joined me in my head—my conscience.
You know, you really should go talk this out with him. You’re not being very nice.
Quiet, I told it, I don’t have to be nice to him. He’s just a creepy weirdo.
No, Serena. That’s exactly why you need to be nice to him. You’re the one person he trusted enough to invite to the banquet—the only one he thought would care.
But he’s so creepy! I wailed inwardly.
Lars was sort of a social recluse, speaking in pseudo-poetry and intruding on conversations. His constant presence had become a constant annoyance, and after he asked me to the banquet, it had become more than that. Despite the hints that going with him was the furthest thing from my mind.
“I really, really want to go with my friends, but I suppose I can go with you if you really want me to,” I had said dismissively, hoping he’d get the hint. But he didn’t understand. And I didn’t really care.
Meanwhile, Lars continued to pound on the door.
You know, you could just go with him, my conscience prodded, accompanied by a resounding thump from the door.
I lashed out at both. “Lars!” I yelled, “Stop beating on the door! I’m not coming out, I think you’re creepy, and I won’t go to the banquet with you!”
The banging stopped for a few moments, then returned in double frequency.
“Come out!” he growled, all pretenses of poetry abandoned.
“No!” I screamed back, ignoring the dull ache of my conscience, “You’re always following me and talking to me. I’m not your friend, OK? Just leave me alone!”
Silence without. Silence within.
My conscience popped out from its hiding place. See? it said sorrowfully. Now you’ve done it. You’ve hurt him.
I knew I had. I peered through a small crack in the door. Lars stood outside, dazed, deep pain etched in his eyes. Then he shook himself like a sheep awakening from a bad dream and slowly walked away, still silent.
As I watched him go, I felt a sudden pang of remorse. “I’m sorry,” I whispered, and I half felt it. But he wasn’t there. I had finally gotten rid of him. So why did I feel so awful?
Consciously kind
Matthew 25:40 records Jesus saying: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (NIV).2 However, we often forget what else He said, recorded in verse 45: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (NIV). Lars was “the least of these,” and I didn’t “do for” him.
When everyone else in the school shunned Lars for his oddity, I should have been there for him. Instead, I shoved him away, ran from him, insulted him. When the thought crept into his poetic brain that perhaps I would go with him to the banquet, he acted on his trust of my good nature. And I disappointed him.
I still feel bad about that day. Since then, I’ve apologized and attempted to repair the “barrier in our relationship,” but I’m not sure if I can. There may be a part of me that still doesn’t want to; maybe my brain is still screaming and clinging to its scorn as the heart and body drag it into submission. I don’t know.
But I do know that I now make a conscious effort every day to be honest and kind to everyone—so no one will be “highly disappointed in my actions.”
1Name has been changed.
2Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Serena Stevens writes from Ohio.

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