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The Mask

Charlie was shaken out of his dream, again. When he stumbled into the kitchen, his mom asked, “Are you OK? You look like you didn’t sleep well.“
Charlie sat down at the table and made a mess when he was pouring cereal into his bowl. Charlie responded, “I’ll be OK, Mom. I had another strange dream.”

Charlie’s mom sat down next to him. She asked, “Do you want to talk to me about your dream?”

Charlie answered with a sad voice, “Umm. Maybe later. Thanks, Mom.”

Charlie’s mom said, “It might help if you write down your dreams. Then you can remember them, later.”

Charlie responded, “I don’t want to remember my dreams.”

Charlie walked to school with his head down. As he was going into the school building, Larry caught up to him. Larry laughed when he saw Charlie, and said, “You don’t look happy, today. Anything wrong?”

Charlie completely missed the joke about Grandpa’s dog who was called ‘Charlie’ and ‘Happy’. Charlie responded quietly, “Nah. I’m OK. Just had a hard time sleeping.”

Larry asked, “Did you have another one of those strange dreams last night? Why don’t you wanna talk about your dreams? Are they scary?”

Charlie dismissed the question, “We need to get to class.” Recently, this was how Charlie responded when Larry tried to get him to talk.

Throughout the day, Larry kept remembering the phrase from Grandpa’s story, “but there were some emotions hiding inside”. Larry couldn’t seem to get it out of his mind. The more he thought about it, the more he started to think that Grandpa told that story mostly for Charlie. Did Grandpa know more about Charlie than he did?

That night at the dinner table, Larry asked, “Why is Charlie always so droopy? He isn’t as much fun as he used to be. Charlie doesn’t laugh at my jokes anymore.”

Mr. Lewis responded, “It is hard to know what is going on inside someone’s heart. Sometimes a person is still hurt from what was said, or perhaps a disappointment, or a great loss that is hard to accept. Larry, it is good that you are concerned for your friend. Jesus was like that. He saw the people like sheep without a shepherd. Charlie is probably feeling lost.”

Larry said, “Why doesn’t Charlie want to talk to his friends about it? It seems like he put on a mask to keep us from seeing the hurt on his face.”

Mrs. Lewis encouraged Larry, “You need to allow Charlie to talk when he is ready. By being a good friend, you are showing God’s love to him. God will help you reach out without making Charlie feel pressured.”

Larry said, “That’s hard. I don’t wanna mess up and make Charlie shut up completely.”

Just before he went to sleep, Larry prayed, “Jesus, help me to continue to be a good friend to Charlie. I know he is having a hard time dealing with something. I don’t know what it is, but You do. I am believing that Charlie will ask You for help. Thank you for answering my prayer. Amen.”

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