About twelve years ago when I was still living in Los Angeles and working with Youth With A Mission two fellow missionaries and friends of mine befriended Gary Coleman. It was only for a night, but the story came back to me the other day when I learned of his death because the story paints a slightly different portrait of Coleman than all of the anecdotes about his angry and bitter outbursts with the general public.
My friends had gone into Burbank to just walk around when they stopped briefly at an arcade to indulge in just one game. Inside that arcade was Coleman, by himself. He then approached my friends and asked if they wanted to play a game with him. My friends hid their excitement at getting to play arcade games with a childhood star and they joined him. One game became two, and pretty soon a couple of hours had passed and they were still hanging out with Coleman. And by this time, my friends didn’t want to leave him that evening, not because they enjoyed hanging with a celeb, but because Coleman kept trying to convince them to stay. As they tell it, they began to realize that Coleman was one of the loneliest people they had ever met.
I understood their assessment. How lonely do you have to be to ask complete strangers to play games with you – for hours- even when you’re a celebrity?
So instead of focusing on the gossipy angles of this story, or even the tragic nature of what seems to have been a very unhappy life plagued with physical and emotional problems, Iet’s all take an extra moment to ask the question: Who is the lonliest, perhaps most unlovable, person you can think of? What can you do for them today?