A Game of Catch


(Based on a true story)
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

Paul was looking for a book when someone pushed him into the shelf. The shelf wobbled, and several of the books almost fell. He turned around. Danny stood a few feet away, pretending to look for a book. He had his softball glove under his arm.

“Why did you do that?” Paul asked angrily.

Danny shrugged and started to walk away.

Paul caught him by the arm. “Why did you push me?”

“Don’t touch me,” Danny said, grabbing Paul’s arm.

Paul tried to pull his arm away, but Danny wouldn’t let go. They pushed and pulled until they both crashed into the shelf and fell, while books rained down on top of them.

“Paul, Danny, stop that right now,” the teacher said. “Stop fighting and pick up those books!”

“He started it,” Paul said as he stood up.

“Did not,” Danny said, still on the floor. He kicked at Paul’s leg from behind a desk where the teacher could not see.

“I don’t care how it started,” the teacher replied. “I want it stopped. Clean up that mess and go back to your desks. If I see you boys fighting again, I’ll send you both to the principal’s office.”

They picked up the books without looking at each other.

Paul sat at his desk with the book he’d picked out open in front of him, but he was too angry to read it. He looked over at Danny, who sat at his desk, picking at the stitching in his glove. Why was Danny out to get him all the time? Couldn’t the teacher see what was happening? Why did he have to get in trouble for something Danny did?

Paul felt miserable. He closed his eyes and whispered a prayer. “Heavenly Father, please bless me that Danny will get in trouble for bothering me, so he’ll leave me alone.”

He opened his eyes. He still felt miserable. Then he remembered the words to one of the songs he’d sung in Primary—“‘Jesus said love ev’ryone.’”*

Paul frowned. He didn’t want to hate Danny. But he didn’t want to love him either.

Recess came and his classmates started a softball game in the field. Paul stayed on a bench at the other end of the schoolyard. He had his softball glove in his backpack, but he didn’t want to play. Not if Danny was playing.

He looked down the field and noticed Danny wasn’t playing either. He sat at the edge of the field with his softball glove beside him.

Paul remembered the Primary song again—“‘Jesus said love ev’ryone.’”

His stomach twisted itself into a knot. He couldn’t go and talk to Danny. They’d get in another fight, and he’d be sent to the office. But as he thought of the words, “‘Jesus said love ev’ryone; treat them kindly too,’” he knew what he had to do.

Paul got up. He pulled his softball glove out of his backpack. He picked up one of the extra softballs and went over to Danny.

“Hi,” he said.

“What do you want?” Danny asked.

Paul held up the ball. “Do you want to play catch?”

Danny looked up at him for a moment. Then he picked up his glove. “OK.”

They started to toss the ball back and forth. Paul couldn’t throw very well, and said “sorry” every time he threw too short or too far to one side.

Danny didn’t complain. He just retrieved the ball and threw it back to him. He threw the ball better than Paul and didn’t miss as often, but after a while he started saying “sorry” as well whenever he threw it too far.

Paul didn’t feel miserable anymore. He started to relax and enjoy himself. He smiled. He knew that Heavenly Father had answered his prayer, just not the way he had thought he wanted.

When the bell rang and they had to stop, Paul noticed that Danny was smiling too. Paul hummed the Primary song to himself on his way back to class— “‘Jesus said love ev’ryone; treat them kindly too. When your heart is filled with love, others will love you.’”

[Kindness]

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Virtue of Kindness,” Ensign, May 2005, 26.

[illustrations] Illustrations by Bryan Beach

* Children’s Songbook, 61.