Personal Generous Orthodoxy
Malcolm Gladwell defines generous orthodoxy as taking a stand where you know it will affect you positively or negatively, but in a generous way. Possibly having to sacrifice something you love for something you love even more. Gladwell tells the story of Chester Wenger and his journey of his beloved church shunning his son for being gay. Wenger was a minister for the Mennonite Church and lost his title for officiating his son and his partner. This is my story of generous orthodoxy. Where I had to lose a beloved friendship for something I loved even more. My sister.
I had a platonic friendship with a girl named Taylor for about eleven years. From Kindergarten to Sophomore year, we were inseparable. She was practically a sister to me and I could count on her for anything. I thought we were so close. I helped her with everything. Even though Taylor and I went to different middle schools and high schools we still had a strong bond. We made sure we saw each other either every weekend or every other weekend. Taylor went to Auburn her freshman year and I went to East. Taylor wasn’t doing well at Auburn because she had a hard time fitting in. To fit in, she would associate herself with the people that had no intention of doing good. These people were drug dealers and drunk drivers and it was all around bad. Wouldn’t you think a girl with so much smarts would stay away from these people? To try to get her away from this trouble, Taylor’s mom pulled her out of Auburn and transferred her to East, which probably made her behavior worse.
This was supposed to be great. My best friend and I were finally at the same schools. I would show her everything and everyone in the school. This was a stepping stone for Taylor and I’s friendship. Instead of just seeing each other on the weekends, we could see each other everyday. I introduced my friends to Taylor thinking that we would all hang out together, but it’d seemed Taylor had other plans. Instead of being with me, she was with my friends insead. I really wasn’t hurt by this at the time. I had thought that I had done the right thing by giving her friends. She wasn’t an outcast anymore, she was a friend to everyone.
I got my driver’s license sophomore year. I was at Taylor’s house almost everyday. Her home life had gotten clearer to me. Her dad was a crack-whore and her mom verbally abused her. As time went on, Taylor seemed to be at my house more often then when I was at hers. In fact, Taylor had lived with me and my family for a period of three months because her home was too toxic. Mine was too with my parents divorcing, but my dad was never home. Taylor’s dad was always home high from his love of crack and you can always tell when that man is high. The time that I spent with her family, I could tell when he was so happy when he was high and how low he got when he was sober. The time that Taylor lived with us was the best. She went to everything with us. During this time was the holidays and it was the best spending it with her and being able to call her my sister.
I was wrong when I thought Taylor and I told eachother everything. Taylor’s name spread fast at East. I had to find out from one of my friends that her mom had leukemia. I was so upset when I found out and was so confused on my she didn’t tell me. Why did she tell someone she knew for not even a year about this situation? My mom even knew when I told her. I was so distraught and so worried that my best friend couldn’t talk to me. Taylor, however, told me herself that her mom had sickle cell anemia. It just so happened that we were learning about this disease in medical terminology. According to the American Society of Hematology, sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that affects 1 in 3 million Americans and 8 out of 10 percent are African American. This disease can also affect Hispanics, South Asians, Caucasians from Southern Europe and people from middle east countries. Taylor’s mom was neither of those races. It really didn’t add up. When I told my mom about this news, she was shocked and denied that she had the disease. Why would a girl so smart lie about her mother being ill?
Taylor had told me that her mom’s cancer has spread to her spine and she could hardly move out of bed and even into her car. That day I came over and her mom was moving a bed to the attic. By herself. Taylor had said she was working illegally at her sister’s orphanage to help save up for back surgery for her mom. Why need back surgery when your back is obviously fine. I put the pieces together that her mom wasn’t sick. It is so twisted to lie about someone having cancer. You would think a girl so smart wouldn’t do that. I couldn’t handle the toxicity of her. Why did my best friend think that I had to pity her? I pitied her enough with everything that already happened to her, but why lie to your best friend? Why was I still friends with her? She had only became worse.
I have an actual sister. Jori is eighteen months apart from me and it feels like we could be twins. Throughout her high school career, Jori has had trouble finding friends. When she actually found a core group, Taylor had to join along. All of Jori’s “friends” favored taylor and not Jori. Jori has been basically thrown out of this group because of Taylor. Jori had a crush on a boy named Derek and it just so happened that Taylor liked him too. It made Jori so furious that she never really talked to Taylor again. Taylor and Derek started dating and that is when all hell broke loose. I saw a side of my sister that I’ve never seen before in my entire life. I saw how hurt she made my sister feel. I had to take a side. I had to make choice. A choice that make a change and I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do because it was a change that I was scared to make. I told Taylor, in a way that I thought was a generous, how wrong it was for lying about her mom having cancer, about favoring Jori and I’s friends instead of us and by dating the boy that Jori liked. I simply told her that I couldn’t be friends with her if she kept this up. Taylor decided to go her own way and continue to drift to other people instead of us.
I gave up an eleven year friendship for someone that had more of a meaning to me in my life. I was terrified that I wouldn’t have my best friend around anymore, but I did what needed to be done. Chester Wenger had the courage to give up a church that he loved so much for something he loved even more, his own son. I had to build up the courage to let go of a friendship that I held so close to my heart for my sister who is even closer. Jori and I don’t see Taylor anymore and we really don’t have any intentions to see her ever again. I now believe that I had wasted eleven years of my life to make sure that one soul was okay. There are days that I’m happy I sacrificed a friendship for my sister but other days when it is hard to come to the realization that it is gone. My question throughout this journey was why would a girl so smart lie about everything in her life? Well, her lying was the smartest thing she could’ve ever done. By having people pity her and be by her side is all she ever wanted. Change is sometimes never a good thing, but in situations like this, change is the best thing.