She got up at the front of the room, holding the novel in her hands. “You want us to read the whole scene?” she asked.
“Just the first couple paragraphs,” my English teacher replied.
She smiled, clearly uncomfortable, and mumbled a quick “okay”. I rested my head in my fingers and looked at the sheet in front of me, wondering what she would do. She began to read, and when the first swear word came out of her mouth, my heart broke a little inside. It wasn’t like I expected anything different from her, seeing how she had changed, for good and for worse, in the last few years. But I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that she had taken the easy way out.
It was a lot more comfortable for me to exchange the swear words in the novel for less rancid words, but I had chosen to surround myself with people that didn’t make me cringe with their speech. Although it felt awkward to skip some of the words of the page, it felt a lot better than dismissing my beliefs in order to accurately read the book.
I can’t give myself a pat in the back because it wasn’t like I did much better when we were working on a composition from the main character’s perspective. “You think I should swear in it?”
I looked at her for a moment. The problem was, the main character swore all the time, so it only made sense for the composition to have swearing. From most non-Christians, the answer was simple. “Well, it would make it seem more realistic,” I finally answered. Inside I cringed.
She looked over her paper. “Mm, okay.” I watched her write it.
There wasn’t much I could do. All I did was make sure MY composition didn’t have swearing in it, but that didn’t change HER composition. I felt gross. I wished she hadn’t “conformed to the world” or whatever they say in church. You become who your friends are. Most of my friends don’t swear. Many of hers do.
Even as I write this, I don’t know how her walk with God is going. We’re not close enough anymore for me to feel comfortable asking. She goes to youth, and probably church, but what else? Lots of kids do that, and they’re as atheist as they come. Is she pursuing God? I don’t know. That’s the problem with being around people you’ve known since elementary school. I still have this idea of who I think they are, based on who they used to be. It’s hard to let go of that.