I lost a friend recently. No, this person didn’t die, but it feels the same to me. I’ve known this person for a while, we got along very well, agreed on pretty much everything, and could talk for hours about things we were passionate about. A few months ago, the conversations began to be a bit strained. I found out he’d been having some “issues,” and on his parent’s advice decided to talk with the pastor of the rather evangelical church he’d grown up in, but had left, years ago.
Suddenly, he was trying to re-convert me. The things we had agreed on were now bones of contention. Freedom of religion, including my freedom FROM religion. Human rights, equality, even morality was questioned. Conversations dissolved into arguments. Eventually, he told me that he could no longer allow me to try to “drag him into the swamp of sin that I had chosen to live in.”
This opened up a number of old wounds that I thought had healed. They were, apparently only just scabbed over. I’m usually quite resistant to comments like this, but coming from someone I thought was a close friend, someone who had been “on my side” in these issues, kinda blind-sided me. And so the friendship ended.
I spent the last couple of weeks questioning whether or not I was doing “the right thing.” Questioning if I should take a less forceful approach to the issues I believe in. Wondering who the next person would be that would turn on me like this. My questions were answered over the last week. Some of the most amazing, strongest people I know helped to lift my spirits. I honestly didn’t truly believe that people looked to me for inspiration, looked to me as someone they could lean on, someone who gave them strength. But a number of people have proven me wrong. (in a wonderful way) I had a Facebook chat the other night with my sister in Alberta. She had just gotten home from spending the day at Medicine Hat Pride. Apparently, one of her friends was talking about his “favourite Facebook page” (The Equality Mantra) and she surprised him by telling him that her brother is one of the administrators of the page. By the sound of it he was “fangirling” (Sharon’s description) for the rest of the day! It’s silly things like this that make you feel that what you do is worthwhile.
The question this event raised for me is this: Why do people think that they have the right to impose their view and beliefs on other people? Sure, you can tell me that by my postings, and blogs, I’m doing the same thing. The difference is that you can choose to ignore my blogs, and posts, or delete or block me. But in a face to face conversation, but to take the most deeply held personal beliefs, the front and centre convictions, the most personal truths that someone has shared with you, and to and to crush them because the no longer match your own, is a violation.
It will be difficult to place that kind of trust in others, now. To put myself in a position in which I share my instincts, my spiritual intuitions, to open up about my deepest, most personal self. This is the saddest outcome of the past few weeks. Can I place myself in this position again? Will I be safe to open my “soul” to a confidant? Do I need to guard myself from having myself stomped on and thrown back at me because deep in my core I’m “different?” Can I trust people not to betray my thoughts, my beliefs, my secrets?
So for now, I will mourn the loss of a friendship. The pain will diminish, life goes on. At the same time, I celebrate the friendships I have. The ones that inspire me, raise me up, give me strength. I celebrate my family, for helping to make me the man I am, for teaching me to stand up for what I believe in. I celebrate my kids, and grandsons, because in them I see that there is hope for the future. I’m going to use these relationships to bandage up those old wounds, and to help the pain go away.
My deepest wish is that someday every person will come to the realization that each of us is unique, each of us has a reason to be here, and each of us has equal value to each other. We only have this life. Let’s give it our all, and make the best of it.