Today will be a hard day for Lance Armstrong and Manti T’eo. If one or both of those names is mysterious to you, three seconds on google will clear things right up. They are both involved in supersized scandals and the press is going crazy trying to keep us informed on every salacious detail.
Scandals like these happen every day. People lie. Cheat on their taxes. Misrepresent their accomplishments online and in person. Use performance-enhancing substances (I’m over that; Twinkies are no longer available.) These stories are magnified a million times by the level of success the men have achieved. America loves nothing more than a good comeback story. Unless it’s a good story of how the mighty fall. There’s nothing like a high-profile train wreck to make us feel better about our own normal lives.
Whenever I hear these stories, I think about the friends and family of those at the center of the scandal. To think that at one time, they took pride in being related – “that’s our boy!” – and now they are faced with the choice of loyalty or loser-by-association. It might be an easy decision to make, but it would be hard to actually walk out . If you believe otherwise, you haven’t read the comments on the articles about Armstrong or T’eo. People loathe them. And they love loathing them. But each of these men is somebody’s son. They have grandparents who have watched them grow, believing they are superheroes. They have siblings and friends who know there is more to them than the scandal.
This week, some friends of ours went through a very difficult court appearance that has been generating a boatload of news coverage. One night, I sat at my computer, heart aching as I read the comments from people who do or don’t know the details of the case, spewing every sort of hatred. I actually don’t know a lot about the case, but I do know our friends. I know they have been loyal and faithful and lovely to us. They have helped clean our house and weed our yard and have loved us sacrificially even while they were in the middle of their very own fight. Again, I know little about their case, but I want to be the kind of friend who stands up to say: there’s more to them than this.
There’s more to all of us.
Every one of us has something we would not want splashed through the headlines. We are, each one, a mess of good and bad and true and false. I’m learning that one of the greatest gifts we can have in life is friends who stand with us even when it’s hard and embarrassing and What in the World will People Think?
I have friends like that and I’d like to be a friend like that. As the above stories emerge, I’m watching to the left and right of these fragile, fallen superstars. I’m watching to see who’s standing alongside. I’m watching to see how the truly loyal shine as they share the shame of someone they love. I’d really like to be someone who runs in to help when everyone else heads for the hills, because we’re all a mess except for grace.