Don't you just love this song, Gloria? Some of you don't listen to rock music. That's cool. Fine by me, really. The other day I was whining on my Facebook about this girl who'd been one of my best friends for many years until that moment when she shoved some speech about God in my face. I hate to write about it but what else can I do?
Now, let's say, this girl is someone who had some rather 'rocky' times in her earlier years, though it wasn't quite as bad as what you'd see in movies. A bit of drama here and there. Tears and a general lack of caring. Once when we were in our early 20's already, my friend ended up at the hospital with bruises on half of her face. Later on I called to check how she was doing, and to tell her about a certain rub she could use on her face to get rid of the bruises quickly. She said I was the only friend who called. Whoever else she called, well, they didn't say much. We were that kind of friends.
Over the years we were close, then not terribly close because she was often busy. Our lives were quite different, then they had their similarities at times. The drama continued: someone made a terrible mistake and hearts were broken, someone else was gravely ill and some random characters laughed a wicked laugh in the background which sent my friend over the edge. Again, I was supposedly the only person who would listen and care about her feelings. Why she didn't have other friends who would do the same, I guess it was because she was busy and had a limited social life. It had nothing to do with the quality of her character: she has always been a good person.
Now, let's imagine this allegorical setting: my friend found herself in a concentration camp. For a long time she got by--she was unharmed, just had to live through a bit of emotional torture once in a while. There was always a way for her to get out of there, but she stayed because she believed she didn't belong anywhere else. Plus, the Nazis weren't cruel people--they were just naive and selfish, they treated her well occasionally and even claimed to care about her at times. All that time she prayed to God that the Nazis would go to church, because she'd like her keepers to be Catholics. The Nazis wouldn't go, lives went on and she hoped against hope that it'd all turn out alright.
The day came when they were going to send her to the gas chamber. Finally she ran for her life and as she was crawling out of that camp, I was there because she had let me know that she would be there. In the following months, this friend asked me to take her to a couple therapists so she could talk things over with someone, get some advice, and I listened to all those horrible details because I was there with her. This was last year. Then we went to get a coffee, see a movie, do all kinds of things until she no longer burst into tears just walking down the streets. Sometimes I'd call to check up on her and she'd still be in this unspeakable pain that I'd never ask about.
So much time passed and my friend lived a fairly normal life, though a lot of questions remained. A few months ago, something told me that my friend was keeping a secret. She covered her traces. When it became obvious--to me, not to others--I dropped the bomb and asked her: "You're spending time at the concentration camp, aren't you?" She tried to cover it up: "I walk past it and hang out with the Nazis. I come and go as I want." I told her I wasn't having it--I knew she'd never disengaged herself from the Nazis, she never even stopped talking to them for a week. Now that she was back there, she'd never leave again.
"No, you don't understand. They're so sincere about having me back and I decided to give them another chance."
"They never let you go for a moment. They haven't really changed."
"I said I'd forgive them if they went to church--and they did, after all this time! God accepts them so I must accept them too. Even though, yes, I know they haven't really changed, they're still selfish people who'd try to send me to the gas chamber again and again when the time comes. But for now they treat me so well like they're my family, no one has treated me so nicely, I just want to do what makes me happy now and I don't care if it's a big fall in the future. Thank you for what you've done for me all this time. I'll live well. Amen."
Since then I haven't said another word to my friend. Now, let's get one thing straight--she was a good friend to me over the years, and I'm not saying that whatever I've done for her is a waste because that wouldn't be fair to whatever she's done for me, too. My only honest response to this whole situation, at this point, is that I find it hard to imagine how I'd be her friend again. Whatever I think, do, or say has no relevance to what she has decided to do or might want to do in her life, at an emotional level. I did what I did and then her life is none of my business. All I can do to refrain from barking at her is to walk off and let her be.
I have all kinds of eccentric ideas but any kind of God--the Christian God, Allah, Buddha, you get the drift--is not for me. I don't accept it when someone makes a decision out of their human desire and goes on to attribute it to The Higher Power. I also don't accept it when a friend flings God in my face when I'm saying how disappointed I am at a real-life scenario--I don't take any answer that eliminates all rational and realistic aspects of a situation. I just don't.