One day, my friend told me a story about a freshman in high school named David that touched me so deeply. This is what I call, Redemption:

David saw a kid named Ron walking home from school. It looked like Ron was carrying home all of his books, which was strange because classes aren’t all on the same day. He thought to himself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” But he shrugged his shoulders and went on.

As he was walking, David saw a bunch of kids running toward Ron, knocking his books out of his arms and tripping him. Ron’s glasses went flying and landed in the grass. When David handed the glasses to him, he looked up he saw this terrible sadness in Ron’s eyes. Somehow he felt his pain.

David said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.”

Ron looked at him and lowly said, “Thanks.”

There was a slight smile on Ron’s face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. David helped him pick up his books, and as it turned out, Ron lived near David. They talked all the way home and Ron turned out to be a pretty cool kid.

Over the next four years, Ron and David became best friends. When they were seniors, they began to think about college. Ron decided on Georgetown, and David was going to Duke. They knew that they’d always be friends, and that the miles would never be a problem.

Ron became valedictorian of their class, and had to prepare a speech for graduation. David was so glad that he didn’t have to get up there and speak.

On graduation day Ron looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. All the girls loved him. David was just jealous. He could see that Ron was nervous about his speech, so David smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at David with one of those looks (that really grateful one) and smiled.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.

“Graduation is a time to thank those who have helped you make it through those tough years; your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly, your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I’m going to tell you a story.”

David looked at his friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day they met. Ron talked of the day he had cleaned out his locker. He talked of how he was distraught about his life. He talked about how lonely he was. So lonely, he had planned to kill himself that weekend. But he didn’t, because his new friend unknowingly stepped in. He showed kindness. He showed compassion. He showed, by his actions, that life is worth the struggle. Ron looked hard at David and gave him a little smile.

“Thankfully, I was saved,” David continued. “My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

David heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told them about his weakest moment. He saw Ron’s mom and dad looking at him and smile with that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did David realize its depth.

It was then that David realized how important it is to never underestimate the power of one’s actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life – for the better, or for the worse.

The most compelling element about the story of Ron and David’s friendship is how it relates to so many lives. Personally, I’ve hoped that somewhere within my past that I’ve been a “David” to someone I’ve met. And what fills my spirit with even more emotion is that I know I’ve felt like a “Ron” many times. What perplexes me is that I don’t know which role I’ve felt more often.

Someone once said, “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.” To so many, each day, this is true. I’ve always valued my friends with depth and sincerity. I’ve always believed in the importance of being friends, and the importance of having friends.

As the story continues, it emphasizes that there is no beginning or end. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. But today is a gift. This reminds me that giving the ultimate gift of friendship is what I call the inner spirit of your heart, and that gives us the true feeling of redemption.