Welcome to a series of stories that basically make up my autobiography. It’s not entirely thorough, but I’ll do the best I can with the memories locked away inside my head. Could be therapeutic for me. Could be humorous for you. Either way, enjoy…
Previously on Life Story… I went on a mission trip to New England during spring break of my freshman year, which was enough to change my mind about transferring out of Bluefield College.
We all want to be the hero of our own stories, right? I’m writing these Life Story chapters and, of course, I want to see myself as the good guy.
That’s not the case with this installment. No, this time, I’m definitely the bad guy.
This is the story of a friendship that I sabotaged during my freshman year at college. As if I could afford to sabotage any of the few real friendships I had at that point.
Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the guilty. Except for me, you still know me as Aaron.
Throughout my freshman year, I was involved with the Baptist Student Union. Through attending weekly Bible studies and worship times with this particular campus ministry, I was introduced to a number of people, both on-campus students and commuters who lived in town.
One of those commuters was a guy named Will. Like me, he was a freshman. Unlike me, he had an older brother who also attended Bluefield. The brother’s name was Charles. He was a senior and, in my eyes, one of those cool guys that you want to be like when you grow up.
These guys reached out to me when I really didn’t have many social connections. They invited me to church with them. They invited me over for meals in their home. They were true friends.
At some point that year, Will began dating a girl named Stacey. She was another commuter who was heavily involved with the BSU at Bluefield. They hit it off and dated for several months. However, as young love tends to burn bright and burn quickly, things fizzled out just before that spring break trip we took to New England.
Problem is, during the time they were dating, I became close friends with Stacey as well. So here I had these two friends who weren’t dating anymore. Stacey began dating someone else. Will was left kind of heartbroken.
The thing about dating about Bluefield is that it’s such a small school that everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyone’s business. Will could try and avoid Stacey and her new fella, but it was inevitable that he’d see them out and about. And with BSU being the only campus ministry at Bluefield, they were all bound to see each other every Wednesday evening anyway.
And then there was me. I was in the middle. I was friends with Will. I was friends with Stacey. I was even growing to become friends with her new boyfriend, Phred. And maybe, at that young age, I was naïve enough to believe that I could maintain friendships with all of these people, despite the obvious turmoil between them.
But that’s not how it works. Yes, ideally, one should be able to remain friends with people, no matter how romantic entanglements may or may not complicate things. That kind of thing only makes sense if feelings aren’t involved.
As my freshman year began drawing to a close, Phred approached me to see if I would like to be his roommate. From my perspective, I was in no position to turn down the offer of a roommate with whom I was actually acquainted. Especially considering my roommate situations in both semesters of my first year at Bluefield.
For me, this was a good thing. But, I’m certain, through Will’s eyes, it was a betrayal.
I knew this when he began referring to me as “Benny.” Short for Benedict Arnold. Famous traitor. Will was never hurtful. It was always said in a joking way when we were hanging out. But it was obvious it came from a place of truth for Will. He was hurt by Stacey and Phred’s relationship. He was hurt by my friendship with Stacey and Phred. He was hurt by my agreeing to be Phred’s roommate the following year.
Do I regret being friends with Stacey and Phred? No. Do I regret being roommates with Phred during my sophomore year? No. But I absolutely regret not trying harder to rebuild the friendship with Will that I unintentionally damaged.
Maybe this is the only way it could have happened. We’re friends with certain people for certain seasons and maybe that season was short for a purpose. I went on to thoroughly enjoy my time at Bluefield College and I am grateful for the friendship I had with Will during that first year. But I am sorry for the part that I played, even unintentionally, in the pain that he was caused through all of these dramatic and changing relationships.