Imagine a child running through a forest. The path upon which the child runs leads him to a creek or stream. The child wishes to keep progressing through the forest, but he must first cross the stream in order to do so. He sees a line of stones crossing the stream, and with great care, he hops from stone to stone and successfully reaches the other side. Gleefully, he runs away from the stream and continues his journey into the forest.
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Perhaps there can be found in this image a metaphor for life. However, I don’t particularly want to dwell on the whole picture today. I want to focus on those stones. They played a major role in the child’s journey despite being in the child’s life for only a short time, and they’re the center of the analogy I’d like to make.
Those stones are stepping stones. They’re nothing more than rocks used to cross a river, but without them, crossing could be quite difficult. They’re not the origin of the journey, nor are they the destination. They just help the child reach his ultimate goal.
We’re talking about the stepping stone friend today. Maybe you know that person. Maybe you are that person. The stepping stone friend is usually able to become friends with someone quickly. He or she especially enjoys being a friend and guide to those who are younger than him/herself. This is the upperclassman who helps that freshman transition into high school or college. It’s the captain of the football team who helps the newcomers fit in better. It’s the section leader who brings underclassmen into the Band family.
Note the key thing here: The stepping stone friend strives to help, usually with some sort of transition. This person plays a key role in helping someone else get from Point A to Point B in life. Example: The college upperclassman helps a freshman break out of his shell. This freshman is then able to better find a friend group and feel comfortable in this new college setting.
Without the help of the stepping stones, the child would never have reached the other side of the river. Here’s the thing, though…If the child stayed on the stepping stones, he would never have reached his destination: the other side of the river. So it is also that a person who becomes friends with a stepping stone will leave that stone behind before too long to reach a better destination.
If a stepping stone friend has helped an underclassman break out of his shell, then that underclassman’s new social ease may help him meet new and potentially better friends. He may still talk to the stepping stone friend from time to time, but the close friendship that flared up may now be left behind for closer friendships with new people.
As always, though, what’s the point? I suppose the point is to not forget the stepping stone friend. He really does want to help you reach that destination, and you being happy will make him happy. But don’t leave him completely behind. Stay friends with him.
After all, it’s lonely in the river.