Saturday, December 13, 2014

What does it mean to be a friend

I was reading this article the other day about Stuart Scott. He's a sports reporter who apparently has cancer for the 3rd time. I guess the Monday Night Football crew gave him quite the salute this past week. A teary-eyed Suzy Kolber shared the following on the air:
"It's been seven years and Stuart is the recipient of the Jimmy V Award for perseverance and he said in his amazing speech . . . that sometimes when you don't have the strength, you need your friends to step up a little bit and help you. So, Stuart, we want you to know we're sending you some extra strength and to keep fighting that fight."

I thought it was a nice gesture, and a good article. What really struck me, though, was the part I underlined in the above excerpt. I had forgotten about one of the last times I talked with the person who was chairman of the church board when I took what I thought was a sabbatical, and was subsequently let go.

It was a well-known fact at the time that I was burned out. I was seeing a counselor and was basically just "holding on" until I could start the sabbatical. I went to lunch with the chairperson, and at one point he asked what the council could do for me; how could they best help? I remember clear-as-day telling him that what I really needed more than anything... was for them to be my friends right now (which I thought they were). It was along the exact same lines as Stu Scott meant: because sometimes you don't have the strength, and you need your friends to step up a little bit and help you.

That's what has puzzled me the most about this whole dang affair with the former church. I don't know how, why or when they went from being my "friends"... to being people who wouldn't even talk to me (or my wife). It took less than 6 weeks and they apparently completely changed their minds, wouldn't offer an explanation, wouldn't meet with us, and have had absolutely nothing to do with us for well over a year now. It just boggles my mind.

Anyway... whatever... I don't think about it much anymore, but when I read that comment... it reminded me of that conversation in the Huntington Wendy's. Seems like a long, long time ago. And I obviously have no idea what it means to be a friend.

1 comment:

MR said...

There's some law of observation in science that says that the act of observing something can change the outcome. A very simple example would be observing nocturnal animals before they had night vision, you would need to shine light on them, thus disturbing their natural habits. I would go so far as to say your perception of people was tainted by your position with the church. Not just you, but all clergy. I think you must have sensed this on some level, though, because you wanted to have friends outside the church. It makes sense to go out into the world and see who you can shepherd in, but I didn't get the impression you were doing that. As a matter of fact, with most people, myself included, you were reluctant to mention your profession--or maybe you just thought it was too soon. Unfortunately profession replaces "rank" in Name, Rank and Serial Number, so it's right in the preamble of most conversations. I did the same thing, joking that I sold chainsaws. I just wanted to go somewhere and unwind and NOT talk about computer anything, probably the reason I find it so easy to not have a smartphone. ANYWHO, the whole conclusion is that you wonder how these lovely people could have done this to you, and I would argue that they never WERE the people you thought they were. That, in stepping into your bubble, they put on a different persona. The question "do you ever really know anyone?" is especially poignant in the case of the clergy, when in their presence people tend to put on their Sunday best personality, no matter how far from the truth it is. So while you regret what you left behind, I would say you didn't leave behind anything. Those people never existed.