Unfriendly Means Scared
When people act unfriendly or nasty, it could be because really they're afraid. In our Torah portion (22:3), we learn how Balak plotted to attack the Jewish people because he was afraid of them. Knowing this can help us get along better with people.
In our story, a kid discovers that sometimes 'unfriendly' means 'scared'.
COMING OUT OF HIS SHELL
"Wow, you sure picked a great day to join our camp!" Aaron beamed at Scotty, the new kid, as they got off the bus at the seaside parking lot.
The kid didn't answer.
"First we do some beachcombing," Aaron, one of the most popular kids in their group, went on, "then volleyball on the sand and then a big barbeque!"
Still, Scotty didn't say a word; rather he just shrugged his shoulders, gave Aaron a look that said 'leave me alone' and walked on.
The day went on and Aaron was having a great time jogging along the beach with a couple of his buddies, when Jon, the counselor called him over.
"Aaron, I want you to do me a favor," the counselor said, taking the boy aside and walking with him along the seashore. "I notice that the new guy, Scotty is spending the whole time off by himself and is having a hard time making friends. Can you go over to him and make him feel more like part of the group?"
Aaron threw his hands up. "Hey, we tried being friendly with him, but he doesn't want to be. Is it our fault if the kid is such a crab?"
"You don't know how right you are," Jon chuckled. Then he pointed to a large shell lying overturned on the sand. "Do you know what that is?" the counselor asked. Aaron jogged closer, stared at the hard, spiny orange shell and grinned.
"What do you mean?"
Jon turned the shell over with his foot, revealing it empty inside. "See, it's not a crab. It's a crab shell."
"What's the difference?"
"The difference is that the real crab - the animal that used to live inside this shell - is really just a soft, mushy kind of fish. It doesn't even have a spine."
"Yup. And since it's so defenseless and is so afraid of getting eaten by other fish, it lives all squished up inside that tough-looking shell and hides itself under big rocks."
"Pretty cool info, Jon. But can I go back to playing, now?"
"Not quite yet," the counselor said. "So do you think that maybe the new kid - or anyone in a new, unfamiliar situation - is kind of like that crab? Maybe he's acting so tough and 'crabby' on the outside, because..."
"I get it," Aaron cut in, "Because he's new, he feels sort of scared and unsure of himself on the inside?"
"Exactly!" Jon said. "So, now if you don't mind, bring a buddy or two and go over to him again. Don't worry if the kid doesn't seem so friendly right away, he just needs some time to..."
"I know," Aaron smiled as he turned to walk over to the new kid, "he just needs a little time to 'come out of his shell!'"
Q. How did Aaron feel at first about the new kid?
A. He felt he was acting nasty so there was no reason to try to be his friend.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He realized that the new kid was acting that way because he was scared, so it was worth trying again to be friendly.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. Often when people act nasty or stuck up, it's really because they feel afraid inside and if we're patient we may eventually be able to make them our friend.
Q. Why do you think someone who is scared would act nasty?
A. It's a way of defending himself, of trying to push people away so they can't harm him.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Is everybody who acts nasty or unfriendly really scared, deep down? Why or why not?
A. A person who feels confident and good about himself has no reason to be nasty. He will naturally be open and friendly. While we might not be able to relate positively with all nasty people or get them to change, we should at least realize that they are acting as they are due to fear.
Q. If we catch ourselves acting that way (unfriendly, due to unjustified fear) what can we do to overcome it?
A. Just recognizing the problem is a big step toward solving it. Also, we can try to focus on God being with us, protecting us and sending us whatever He does, for our ultimate good. These thoughts are big confidence builders.