Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What does love do when . . .

We were friends in junior high and the beginning of high school before he transferred.  He had broken glasses held together by tape and was awkward and bullied.  He thought he was stupid and worthless because he got bad grades and had a complicated home life.  He needed a friend.  He wrote me letters, and I wrote back.  We signed them in this silly way . . . 

I think I was the only person he'd ever interacted with on this level, which is why he told me some things that make me wish I could go back in time and do what I should have done (told someone else, an adult, an authority, someone who could have helped him and maybe saved him some trouble).

When he transferred away, I broke school rules to give him a hug.  I heard that he got really good grades at his new, public school, which made sense, since our school was much harder and more advanced.  That gave him some much-needed confidence, and I thought maybe things would turn out okay for him.

Later, I found out he married one of my other friends from high school, a girl who started attending after he left, a casual, lunch-table friend who told us that she would never believe in Jesus because of all the people at our private Christian school who said they did and treated her and other awkward outsiders like crap.  She always told us that we were an exception (and didn't say we were not enough of an exception to blot out the norms) and that we shouldn't blame ourselves for her Jesus-phobia.  I didn't blame myself.  I understood that logic and arguments can't force anyone to believe in Jesus.

When I heard they were married, I didn't know what to think.  Years later, they divorced, and it was messy.  Now he's tracked me down online, and he really wants to renew our friendship.  He is lonely and desperate.  He needs friends and help.

I am hesitant.  I've had some bad luck with adult men pursuing me for ulterior motives, and I don't really want to break any more hearts.  That couldn't possibly help him.  He's hurting enough.  Not to mention that now that I'm an adult, I am more legally responsible for anything he tells me.

I don't really know what love does in situations like this.  Do you have any advice?

1 comment:

  1. If it were me, I couldn't bring myself to ignore or cut off someone who needed a friend that badly. But I think you owe it to him to tell him in advance how you plan to handle various problematic scenarios, and then stick by your plan: that you aren't looking for a relationship and he won't get any encouragement if he's interested in one, that you make no promises regarding privacy and will tell authorities anything you feel you need to, that you refuse to get in the middle of anything going on between him and his ex, and so on.

    I began the dating relationship that led to my marriage with an honest admission that I was willing to try dating, but that I was afraid something was wrong with me and I wasn't able to stay committed, and that I never wanted to hurt anyone again. That kind of brutal honesty paid off for me, and maybe it could secure a good friendship in this situation.