By Laura Acuff, Opinion Editor
Recently, I wrote a column about my best friend’s family’s troubles. I tried to make it anonymous, and I tried to pull the good and the universal truth for fellow Christians from their situation.
In the days leading up to writing that piece, I had wracked my brain for a different idea, any idea – something I could turn into 400 words worth printing, but I could think of nothing else.
Still, it wasn’t my place to write their story. No matter how anonymously I wrote, the Church of Christ community is small. I knew from the beginning that my words were likely to eventually make it back to them through others aware of their situation. I told myself that if I couldn’t think of anything else, I could call and ask permission from my friend’s mother. She was likely to grant approval, I thought.
But I never made that call. Instead, I waited until the last minute and wrote the column anyway.
By my next visit home, a mutual friend had e-mailed the column to my friend’s family. At church that Sunday, I saw my friend’s mom. A woman of intense integrity, she had almost as much a hand in raising me as my own parents, and I respect her just as much. When I guiltily apologized for not requesting permission to make her family the subject of my column, her response wasn’t what I expected.
“It’s OK,” she said. “And you know why it’s OK? It’s OK because I trust you.”
Relieved, I drove back to school that afternoon and counted my blessings: I hadn’t ruined my friendship with the family. But her response haunted me, and I didn’t understand why.
Eventually, I realized my hang up: she said she trusted me with their testimony, but I wasn’t sure I would have been able to say the same about myself.
I can’t explain why, but for me, religion may be the most difficult subject to write about. I’m not one to run from conflict, so that can’t be the reason for my aversion. Maybe it’s too personal. When we truly subscribe to a religion, we invest all our hopes, whether directly or indirectly, in that religion. It’s not quite the same as betting our reputation on an action or apparel choice. We stake our very souls on the decision, and if we settle on Christianity, we’re called to reveal such to the world through our testimony.
That’s why writing that column was a cop out. I do believe I felt God guiding me to do so but I don’t believe I followed through appropriately. In writing my friends’ story, I put them on the line. I invested little and I didn’t even have the nerve to ask permission.
In the end, everything leads back to that Golden Rule we can all recite: treat others the way you want to be treated. But the trite command means little to me. Overused and familiar, I think sometimes we forget exactly what it means to apply the concept to daily life. Perhaps the more poignant question is, do we deserve to be trusted?