Home > Uncategorized > The Invisible Friend Series, Part 1

The Invisible Friend Series, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to share with a group of high school students about spiritual formation and growth. Part of what I did is write a metaphorical story that I shared with them during one session. While I really enjoyed writing it, I didn’t get a lot of feedback from them about whether or not it made any sense or helped them think differently about spiritual formation.

So over the next three days I’m going to post it in sections here, and invite you to offer feedback. I’m especially interested in hearing what you think it is saying about spiritual formation/growth. Thanks!


I guess you can say it’s a family tradition. My family is not usually the tradition making type, but we’ve managed to get to the state fair every year for the past 4 years. In my book, that’s a tradition.

I remember the first year we attended. I was 12 years old and had just finished 6th grade. I liked my mom and dad a lot, but didn’t really like being seen with them.

So when we arrived at the fairgrounds and my mom pulled me and my older brother, Grant, aside, I thought I knew what was coming – something about being good, staying close, and not complaining, so that “Everyone would have a good time.”

Overwhelmed by the sounds of the nearby roller coaster, the wafting smells of cotton candy, and catching a glimpse of a girl my age, brown hair braided into pigtails and sticking out of a cowboy hat, I hardly heard what my Mom had said – except somehow, I heard enough to blurt out, “20 bucks? For each of us? We can do whatever we want? Without you?”

“Yes, Thomas, that’s right. Have fun together, and just be back here by 4:30.,” said my Mom.

I crumpled my $20 bill, stuffed it in my pocket, and looked to see if that girl was still nearby – not that I was brave enough to approach her, but I was small enough and stealth enough to secretly follow her and not be noticed.

I turned my head in the direction she had been walking, expecting to see her cowboy hat bobbing amidst a sea of heads – but was instantly distracted by a sign, one unlike the others that loomed overhead.

Instead of bright neon flashing back at me, it was unadorned, perched atop a drab, run-down trailer that looked as though it belonged in someone’s front yard, encircled by knee-high grass. It’s simplicity beckoned to me in a quiet, reassuring voice, and I listened.

As I approached I noticed the words had been painted by hand, done quickly by someone who wasn’t a very good artist. The sign simply read, “Free. For You.”

An old man with bushy eyebrows, excessive wrinkles, and thick, wavy black hair stood inside the trailer, staring back at me with surprisingly gracious eyes.

His gaze was one of expectation and excitement, as he quietly and assuredly uttered, “Welcome, Tommy.”

Before I could respond in any way, he reached his seemingly empty left hand out to me and offered its invisible contents.

“I’m here to give this to you, Tommy,” he said.

I reached out and grasped the emptiness, wondering if onlookers would think he or I were the crazy one.

I hesitantly mumbled, “Thanks,” and walked away, fist still clenched tightly, holding onto what I had been given.


Part 2 will come tomorrow…

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