One of the perks of working for Gogo is that it is a Colorado company. Since I travel to work in person with my manager on a monthly basis, I get the good fortune of going back to where we spent 15 years living to see people I love and care for. My son, my brother and his family, and my best friend.
I usually travel in on Monday and home on Friday, so I don’t always get to see everyone, but this week is Kenzie’s 23rd birthday and she wanted to come back “home” to see her friends. To keep the ticket price low, we extended our stay to Sunday. Kenzie is staying with her friends and that gave me a few precious days to stay at Mel’s.
Mel and I have been friends for over 20 years. Some days it feels like we met more recently because we often dream together and that makes the energy feel new and exciting — like early dating. Other times our friendship is like a favorite warm, warn sweater, cozy and comfortable.
That doesn’t mean it’s always easy going…
Sometimes there is a awkwardness caused by the elephant in the room. Like last night.
Between jobs I took five weeks off. That was amazing. Part of what I used that time for was to write a bible study that I am now teaching on Sunday nights at church. It’s an evangelism course. I apparently failed to mention to Mel that I had done that. Why wouldn’t I share something so simple, and so big as basically writing a book?
When I left the Mormon church and had to come clean and let Mel know, and that was one of the most difficult confessions I’ve ever had to make because our religious connection had been precious to both of us. In fact it was because of our formerly shared faith that we became friends in the first place. It’s highly unlikely that we would have met, and even if we had, I don’t know that we would have become friends.
When I told Mel that I was leaving Mormonism she disclosed a fear to me and it has always stuck with me. She had had other family members leave years earlier and they had become condescending towards the church and its members, often making snide comments and unkind remarks. She was afraid that might happen to me, too.
Because of my love and respect for her, I have probably gone too far the other way — never voicing anything regarding her church, especially if it was something I didn’t agree with — to her. But in doing that, I also don’t often share what I’m doing in my own faith because I’m afraid it will highlight the difference and cause her sadness or discomfort. And well, that’s getting ridiculous.
When I mentioned to her causally that I spent my five week sabbatical writing a bible study her eyes grew wide and she exclaimed, “Do I even know you?” She was both kidding, and serious. And her statement really hit me in my heart. Does she? Do I let her know me? Fully? Like a best friend should? Is getting 75% of me fair to her? Is it even enough for me?
Sadness creeps in when I think about it that way. This isn’t Mel’s fault, or even her issue. It’s mine. And it’s unfair.
I used to think I was protecting her. But really, let’s be honest. I’m protecting me. What if the differences are too much for Mel to handle? What if she can’t handle it, and decides to walk away? Devastation.
I’m an Enneagram 8. Not a 6. So why, in this one instance do I go straight to worst case scenario? And why don’t I trust our friendship enough to go all in? Maybe it’s time.
I’m having breakfast with another friend this morning and then Mel and I will spend the day together doing something we both love — looking at home decor. We’ll most likely grab lunch first. I’m thinking today is the day – the day I come clean. Just buck up and tell her my fears and the whys behind them and just lay it all out there.
In the end, not being fully myself is becoming more of a burden than I want to carry. It’s keeping me from being authentic and moving forward in the calling to write that God has laid on my heart.
I’ve started writing a book about my transition into and out of Mormonism. Every word I write is a struggle because in the back of my head I’m thinking, “Mel needs to know that I’m doing this.” And I know there will be things in the book that will make her uncomfortable and other things that might just make her sad, but to write it and not tell her — that’s not fair to her. Or to me. Writing a book is no small feat, and it takes a lot of energy and time. But not as much energy as it takes to hide it.
And really, do I honestly think our friendship means less to her than it does to me? That’s just not the case, and I know that in my head, but my heart still feels a bit of fear.
Losing Mel would be one of the hardest things I could imagine having to go through. But I’ve lost a piece of her by not sharing my whole self with her anyway. I’ve lost the part of her that might love me more deeply, be even more supportive, and celebrate my successes.
I pray that I don’t leave today without sharing the whole story, without giving her the chance to know me fully. To bridge the awkwardness we both feel from time to time. I love her like my sister and it’s time I treat her like I do.
If you’re reading this, I ask that you say a prayer for both of us today.
One Reply to “Live from Colorado…”