During a trip to Nigeria that was one of my most difficult assignments ever, this is one of the funniest memories of my entire life. We brought a nerf football and every kid there wanted to catch it. I would throw the ball up into the sky and all of these kids would just crash into each other trying to catch it. ABSOLUTELY CRASH! No holds barred. They would thump skulls, bounce backwards, fall over each other…pandemonium. And they would all just laugh and ask for the ball to be tossed up again. I really almost pee’d my pants for about 20 minutes. They knew it might hurt but they wanted to do it anyway. To this day I’m sure those kids talk about the day white people came to their village and played ball. And probably celebrate the ones that caught the ball that day.
This photo also teaches me a couple of things I think are noteworthy. Sometimes there are crashes in our lives that cause hurt…for us or for others. Some of them we cause and some we have no control over, they just happen. It is very human to try to avoid pain and try to pursue pleasure. Our brains are sort of wired that way. But to always avoid pain, to intentionally avoid it, somehow also means we don’t have some stories we could tell. Sometimes the crash, and the resulting hurt, is just the thing that, once we get through the pain, makes the most amazing story. Depression, anxiety, conflict with people we love, a period of loneliness, whatever is causing the hurt doesn’t have to be the end of the story. These kids thumped skulls with each other and laughed. We could probably use a little more laughter in our lives. But keep pressing through the pain, and you will have a glorious story to tell.
A second thought. These kids were all friends living in the same village in rural Nigeria. They crashed and laughed and came back for more. Everyone thumps skulls with a friend once in a while. It hurts, no doubt. But instead of looking for reason to break friendship and put wedges between you, can you try and frame the crash into something meaningful? Marriages that never have conflict rarely get to a place with the sweetest intimacy. That’s true of friendship too. If you never have conflict, talk about it, and walk through it, you will never get to the sweetest part of friendship.Talk about the crash, share what you are feeling, try to withhold blame, and try to understand what your friend is feeling. Having a friend that you have walked through adversity with is like gold. They can help when you have another crash later. And celebrate the fact that the crash actually makes the friendship MORE meaningful.