When I was a kid, I went to visit my cousins for a week or so. They had not made friends with their new neighbors, two girls our age. The girls were outside on their patio playing a very intriguing game. We couldn't quite tell what it was, but the girls were very involved and laughing a lot. We caught them looking at us often. Being 7 and 8, we logically decided they were mean girls who didn't want to be friends, we decided to get even with them. We quickly drew up a plan.
We strategically placed a red rider wagon on its side close to the neighboring yard but not too close to draw attention to us. Then we collected as many rocks as we could. We crouched down behind the wagon when they weren't looking, we started throwing rocks at the back of the wagon. We were wreaking the fun game the girls were playing by making so much noise. It never occurred to us to throw the rocks at the girls if we really wanted to mess up a game! We felt like such cool bad girls just the same.
When we ran out of rocks, my cousin Julie, the older of my two cousins, started giving directions on our next move. I started off for more rocks. My cousin Janice said she wasn't so sure about the idea. When I got back with the rocks, I started beating away. Julie joined, but Janice got up and went into the house. Moments later, she came out and started directly over to the neighbor's backyard. She had a banana in her hand. A peace offering. We could hear faintly the awkward greetings of a new friendship. We peered over the wagon and saw Janice thrust the banana in the taller girl's hand. Then all three girls sat down in the lawn chairs on the back patio and shared the banana. Julie and I threw so many rocks our ears were ringing. The girls and Janice never looked at us. They laughed and shared the banana.
Julie and I ran out of rocks again. Quietly she started to get up, and I knew what she was up to. I didn't want anything to do with it. I ran to the side of the yard where the rocks were and started collecting. Julie disappeared quietly into the house. When she reappeared, she too, had a banana in her hand and was making her way to the neighbors'. I sneaked behind the wagon with a load of rocks folded into my shirt. I dumped them but I waited. I wanted to continue with the plan of NOT meeting the snooty neighbors. I wanted to hit the rocks on the back of the wagon. I wanted to be a cool bad girl. But I also wanted to go inside and get a banana. I started to throw the rocks at the wagon, woefully this time. The viciousness was gone from my attack. As I beat the back of the red rider I thought about bananas. I heard the four girls laughing.
I really wanted to go over and see what game they were playing. I stopped hitting the wagon and peered over. I had to stop for a moment, I was making so much noise that I couldn't hear what was being said. I thought they might be making fun of me for hitting the wagon with the rocks all by myself. It was worse than I thought. They didn't even notice me. They were making faces with bananas stuffed in their mouths. I am an expert at playing with my food, I should go over their and show them how it is done, I thought. But I went back to banging the rocks. I wasn't having fun anymore, but I was carrying out my plan.
I finally ran out of rocks. I sat crouched behind the wagon for a while and listened. The giggly foursome had finished the bananas and were playing a game. Julie was assigning parts. Julie never took long to take over anything. But she is good at it. I realized I really didn't want to hit rocks on the back of the wagon, I wanted Julie to assign me a part to play in the game. I peered over the wagon and waited until I thought the girls were too into the game to notice me. Then I dashed for the back door.
"Aunt Melba, can I have a banana?"
"What for, Anna?" My Aunt's voice sounded accusing at the time. Now I look back and realized it was amusement I heard.
"I am just wanting a banana." I couldn't let her know what it was for. It was too embarrassing.
"I don't have anymore bananas. But you can have anything you want in the fruit bowl. How about an apple?"
Now how am I going to get across to the backyard with an apple? And if I could get to the neighbor's backyard with an apple, how were we to split it? What if the girls don't like apples? Would they laugh at me? Would I just stand there with an apple in my hand, too embarrassed to go back to my cousins yard, too embarrassed to stay? No, an apple was just too risky.
I mustered the best uninterested voice I could. "No thanks. I really want a banana," I sighed. "Are you sure you don't have one in the pantry or the refrigerator? I was trying not to show that I was a little annoyed. Three girls in the house and only two bananas.
I apparently only amused my Aunt further with this question. I went my cousin's room. I saw no way of getting a banana and no way of getting to my cousins' neighbor's backyard. I was angry. I was angry at my cousin Janice who broke the unspoken pact to not like the neighbor girls, angry for Julie for getting the last banana. And I was angry at my Aunt for not having three bananas in the house when there were three girls in the house. I was also feeling alone. I was away from my parents and was not getting to play with my favorite cousins.
I needed a way to get amnesty, or better yet, to feel amnesty, because I was not getting a banana to get out of this lonely feeling.
I didn't need a banana. I just needed to walk across the yard and say 'hi'. But try telling that to a seven-year-old kid who doesn't humble very easily.
I never walked across the yard. I never met my cousins' neighbors. I never showed them my killer funny banana- stuffed face or got assigned a part in the game by Julie. I sat in my cousins' room and stewed and blamed and felt lonely.
A lot of us feel we need a banana to back to feeling good about our lives. We feel that if our cards were in order, if we could make a clean break, if we could push it under the rug just one more day, our lives would be better. Truth is, we need no banana. We need God. And all we have to do is walk across the yard. He truly does the rest.
The fact that there was no third banana was not the reason I was lonely. I needed to walk across the yard. Simple as that. God is the same way. He needs no banana. It is as silly it sounds: we don't need to do something for God to get back to Him. Don't look for a banana; don't look for a peace offering. He is ready in the yard to let you play, too. You have completely misjudged the Lord. He is not a couple of mean girls who don't want to play with you. He created you; He surely wants to be with you.
Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday starting at sundown on Sunday. It is a holiday were Jews have a personal reconciliation with God and they feel a renewed closeness to Him. I blog this to let you know that I think He is calling you to come to Him and talk. See what He has to say. Talk to Him about what has bothered you in the past year-- how you have hurt.
He is not looking for a banana, but He would love for you to put down your rocks.
Just walk across the yard and say 'hi'....