Should Have Realized This 10 Years Ago

Twelve years ago I was in a long queue, checking in for my intercontinental flight back home. It was a business trip, it took forever and I felt bored. I got in a conversation with a friendly young lady in front of me. She felt sort of lost in the huge airport and I helped her out with a few things. To kill the waiting time after check-in, I bought us a drink and we chatted a bit.

The lady was a single mom from the other end of the world, with a permanent resident card. I knew her home country well, so we talked about that. She told that after her divorce she had picked up her study, and worked in all sort of jobs on the side. She was on their way to her home country to visit family. Just before boarding we exchanged e-mail addresses.

Months later, I happened to be in her city for work. We e-mailed back and forth and I visited them on my free Saturday for a drink. We kept e-mail contact and it was nice, even though her e-mails were spiced up with how I had been a friend sent by God in the airport, etc. She was a devoted Christian and I am what they call “spiritual but not religious”. It was OK with me. In my opinion everybody can express in their own ways what and how they believe. As a single mom in college, she was struggling financially.

One time on the phone, I asked about her and her family and she started crying, saying that her father was about to die. Of course she would not be able to buy the airline ticket to go there. We had been friends now for about 2 years then. I had just received an unexpected bonus in my job, so I offered to help out by buying their tickets. Also, I managed to convince an airline company to offer an incredibly low rate. After I paid to the airline company, they needed her and her kid’s passport details, but she became very secretive. I asked why. She said that she had been badly stalked in the past and did not want to share that sort of info easily. I didn’t really appreciate this lack of trust, but I put that feeling aside because of the urgency to get her trip arranged. Eventually she contacted the airline company directly, so all was set.

Two days before their departure I wished them a safe trip, and expressed my hope that her father would get better or at least hang in there till they arrived. A few days later, I sent an e-mail, asking how things were with her father. To my shock, she wrote that they had cancelled the trip, because both of them suddenly caught bronchitis. Admittedly it made me a bit sad and frustrated, because of all the effort. With a lot of haggling I got the airline company to refund the money directly to her account, so that they could use it immediately once they could fly again. But instinctively, deep down, it felt something was not right. Eventually, a few months later, they managed to go anyway, and father was still there.

In the meantime her e-mails were only about her struggle to match work, study and money issues. She wanted to start a business and asked me to help. I spent days and nights on the phone with her, proof reading her thesis and I wrote drafts for her business plan. Then her e-mails got more infrequent and stuffed even more with things like I was a friend sent by Jesus etc. But she also started to push me that I should read the Bible to overcome some own problems that I had in that period. She rarely, if ever, answered the phone when I called. Every now and then, she wrote how she still struggled, but I never got any feedback at all on any of my suggestions and ideas about how to make things work better for her. All I got were scattered e-mails trying to teach, evangelize and convert me. They sounded very fanatic, but also described how terribly she struggled financially. I got frustrated by it, as even normal my “happy birthday” and “merry Christmas” e-mails remained unanswered.

I expressed my concern to her a few times times in a very empathic and careful way, as a friend, but she waived it away and frankly, I didn’t think it was my role to criticize her. We were friends, and I kept telling myself to respect her choices. But our contact became very shallow. And it went on like that for years, until it fell silent for a long time.

Then, last year, she sent me an e-mail which was quite different. No teaching, no Bible texts, no God or Jesus this time. Actually it was a pretty happy e-mail. She even asked about how my life was going. It made me feel like she had finally found the way up in her life. I wrote back and asked her to tell me more about how things were going there. The next e-mail came. Again, it was an upbeat e-mail. She planned to go to a seminar about growing her business, but just lacked a few hundred bucks. She would tell me later exactly what it was, because she was so busy. The request to help out was not put in those exact words, but evident enough that otherwise she could not go. I sent the lacking amount, glad that things seemed to go a bit better. It was not much. She sent me a “thank you” and promised to tell me everything after she came back.

Well, that is the last thing I ever heard from her since almost a full year now.

Then I googled her, and now I know what is going on. For years, she has been a fanatic follower of a motivational website which looks like an extreme Christian cult at the same time. She had posted many, very emotional messages on their site to thank them (“thank you Jesus”). She also posted about normal family traditions that she had banned from her life, because they are “evil” and “not biblical”. She posted that she wants to donate a huge amount to this organization (already multimillionaires!), someday. And my eyes finally were opened by her post saying: Ask anyone to give whatever you want. If it is in the name of Jesus, it shall be given to you. Now I knew why she didn’t tell me what it was for!

Yes, I should have seen this already 10 years ago! But it made me feel like an idiot, disrespected and betrayed. But who cares, who am I, duh? As a free thinker I’m not one of the chosen ones to be saved, not one of them! I am more determined than ever, to never, never become such a “saved one”. For me, this is it. End of story. End of friendship. The only thing that still bugs me sometimes is… I just hope her kid will be able to use the gift of independent thinking, that nature (or God, if you wish) has given to us all….
think4once think4once
51-55, M
1 Response May 25, 2012

Thanks. I know and I did. But that was a tough process...