Nobody Wants to Play with the Broken Toy

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The toy was so excited to be finally made at the toy factory and put into the bright packaging that would attract a potential buyer to take home with them! The little toy was almost tingling with anticipation as he pictured himself given to an excited, happy child. Maybe for a birthday, maybe for Christmas! Who knows?

He felt the normal bumping and jostling as his package was put into a cardboard box that was then put on a pallet with many other boxes of all shapes and sizes.

“Wow! Here I go off to my future family!” he thought as he heard the rumble of the wheels beneath him and the gentle rocking motion of the semi-trailer on his journey from the factory to a store.

He woke to a loud metal clunking sound, then a high pitched metal door slowly screeching as the semi-trailer’s rear doors were slowly swung open then locked back into place. Now, a small vibration as the power pallet jack forks slid between the wood boards of his pallet and gently lifted his group of boxes out of the truck, rolling down short, gentle incline. With a thud, he realized that he was almost home!

“Now onto the shelves where I can shine, someone will buy me, take me home and I will be played with by a happy, enthusiastic child!” he though happily.

His box was lifted off the pallet, stacked on the floor, then other boxes were stacked on top of him.

A sharp stabbing pain as the edge of a carelessly handled two wheeler cut through the bottom edge of his cardboard box, then even poked into his bright packaging, chipping off one of his brightly colored pieces.

“Oh no!” the toy thought, “I’m damaged! But maybe my packaging will hide it, and someone will still buy me.”

The toy packages were all dutifully stocked on the shelves, looking very bright and happy!

“Wow, I’m right at eye level, easy to see, and I’m looking good!” thought the toy.

He heard people talking, then felt himself being picked up, and purchased!

“Yea!! I’m going home to make a child happy!” the toy was almost beside himself with excitement! He was getting wrapped up in bright foil wrapping paper!

Now he heard children and adults laughing and singing ‘Happy Birthday dear Joey’ and then he felt himself getting picked up, handed to Joey. The toy was quivering with excitement again! “I am going to meet my child friend who is going to have so much fun playing with me!”

The wrapping paper got ripped away, the toy lay there smiling his biggest smile at the birthday boy as Joey opened the package, took him out, then held him up for everyone to see.

Suddenly, Joey cried out with great disappointment, “It’s broken! I don’t want to play with a broken toy!”

And the toy was very, very sad and lonely because nobody wanted to play with the broken toy.

And that’s what being raised in a Baptist pastor’s home did to me. I started out excited to live like every other kid, but I had to play by different rules than ‘normal kids.’ We didn’t have a TV, so I distinctly remember sitting at the 3rd grade lunch table with all the rest of the guys, they were talking about what they all saw on TV. I really wanted to join in the conversation, but the best I could do was to ask feebly if any of them remembered a movie from a year ago (that I’d seen part of as we were visiting someone with their TV on). Crickets. 

That lunch table experience pretty much has defined the rest of my so-called social life. Everyone was in the living room, I was the kid always in the entry way, looking into the house wishing I was part of the group, that I was normal. 

Somehow it seems to me that every boy in the world that I’ve ever grown up with somehow were all good at sports. Basketball, football, baseball. And they all had their own baseball glove, or their own football. My Dad expected me to somehow just be really good and aggressive in sports, yet he didn’t trouble himself to teach me how to play anything. 

Church.  Message preparation, making the bulletins, going door to door inviting people to his church always came first. Every time. 

And so another thing that fundamentalism did to me was to turn me into a kid who learned to play by himself, experience anxiety every time I was to be involved in any organized sports because I knew I sucked at them, and I also learned that I would be the kid that was either going to be picked last for any team, or not picked at all, and would be on a team by default. And nobody wanted me on their team. 

Nobody wants to play with the broken toy. 

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