Sometimes I want to be normal.
I don’t mean that I think I’m a weirdo or anything like that; I mean it in the sense of what’s usual/common/generally accepted…
Lately, I’ve wanted to be more like my group of friends. They all seem normal to me and I feel… not that. Sometimes in a bad way.
I talked with that boy for a bit.
The thing is, most of my friends, I think, wanted me to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt. Partly, they wanted that for me. They wanted me to be able to move on, and being mad at him for his unreliability and seeming fakeness is one way to dismiss him, making the moving on a lot easier.
I often think it would be normal to dismiss him.
But I also often think that’s not the kind of normal I want to be.
Partly, most of them want me to dismiss him for themselves. He’s hurt them and they want move one from him just as I do. But I think some of them haven’t truly felt for him. Some admit they haven’t empathized, and most of them would probably say that he doesn’t let them in enough for them to know how to feel for him…
but I feel for him.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is one of the stories I’ve taught every year since I started teaching. I’m a little sad because I will likely not get to teach it next year, and it has a truly beautiful passage about what it is to be friend and sister to a broken man.
Beaneatha’s entire life has been turned upside down because her brother, Walter Lee, did something incredibly foolish and selfish with family money. It impacted her future and the entire family’s future, and yet, their mother is urging Beneatha to love him even though he’s really screwed all of them.
“Beneatha: Love him? There is nothing left to love.
Mama: There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing. (Looking at her) Have you cried for that boy today? I don’t mean for yourself and for the family ’cause we lost the money. I mean for him: what he been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ’cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.”
I always spend extra time on this passage when I teach the play because it’s one of those rare pieces of times when I can teach the gospel in a public classroom without proselytizing or getting myself into trouble.
I think a lot of my friends are still mad at the boy because he destroyed something they loved. I was almost ready to jump on-board with them because when he’s not talking, he seems to have done it rather carelessly.
And because I loved it too.
The thing is, I think those of us who were there the longest, gave it the most of ourselves, and therefore had the greatest stake in its destiny… are less angry than those who poured very little of themselves into it. We’re slower to dismiss him even though he wounded us considerably more.
After talking with him, and being reminded of his side, I’m forced to ask myself how I can ever be eager to dismiss someone I’ve known for so long, who gave up so much, while I’m hesitant to assume the worst about the fool in Starbucks?
I certainly don’t know how a friendship can even work with him, and I’m not naive enough to believe it necessarily will work, but I believe God would have me try. And I believe God would have us all love him, though he’s unlovable lately. Though he’s not loved us lately, and admits to despising us a bit.
I recently told him that I believe he often lets his demons shout down his better angels… and I’m guilty of the same. My demons tell me that he has screwed me so many times. That he hasn’t loved me well. That he unfairly thinks ill of me. That he deserves dismissal.
But my better angels tell me that I ought to cry for him today… not just for myself or the family. But for him. They say that the world has whipped him, so and that he’s been through some valleys recently. And I hope that there will be people who can love me through my own valleys, though I be unlovable and self-involved – perhaps about all of the romance that’s consuming me of late.