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Vicki Hinze | Torn Loyalties

April 10, 2011

Vicki HinzeDEADLY TIESOkay, you’re in a pickle.  A fix.  You didn’t put yourself there, but in it you are, and now you must choose: Do you do the right thing?  Or do you do the easy thing?

Oh, the temptation is strong.  You’re weary and worn and you silently scream, “Easy!  Can I just this once go Easy? I’ve fought the good fight.  I’ve tried to be a good person, to treat people well, to do what I say, and not be a jerk about things.  I do what I can to help others—even though when I need help, often no one’s home.  And for my trouble I’ve been betrayed, stabbed in the back, unjustly accused, stepped on, lied to—you name it.”

Sound familiar?  We’ve all been there.  We’ve all felt that way at one time or another.  And we’ve all been so weary of it all that we just want to duck our heads back under the covers and block out the world.

But we don’t duck because we know the world won’t go away.  Because we know we have to come out sometime.  And if we don’t deal with “this junk” (whatever it might be) now, we’ll have to deal with it later—and odds are that the time lapse will only make the problem worse.  Instead of enduring a little mess, we’ll have to endure a big one.

All that aside, we’re good people.  We have values and ethics.  We stand up for what we believe in—even when it’s not popular.  Even when we’re condemned, ridiculed or … well, just look at the list above and insert your pick of adjectives.

We’ve chosen the right way, as we see it.  We keep fighting the fights we think are worth fighting.  We keep doing what we determine we should do because we see it as right and worth doing.  But, boy, we long for easy.  Not in everything—that’d be idealistic—but in just something. Especially when the choice we must make impacts not just us but those we love.

That’s Beth’s situation in DEADLY TIES.  She’s got this lifelong best friend Sara who is also her business partner.  Together they own this little software company that has been extremely successful.  Sara’s shy and quiet—far more at home in her lab.  Beth’s outgoing and where Sara whispers, Beth naturally roars.  They’re a good team.

In comes Mr. Perfect—and he sets his sights on Sara. Beth’s got his number.  He’s a user and a loser bent on exploiting Sara and getting his grubby manicured hands on her money.   But worse is what he’ll do to her fragile heart.  Sara, of course, doesn’t see it.  And so the tension between Sara and Beth begins, and Beth’s at juncture point one on the dilemma path of torn loyalties.  Does she bite her tongue and keep her mouth shut, or warn Sara?  Sara’s brilliant, Beth decides.  Surely she’ll see it on her own…

The easy way—and taking it ushers in juncture point two—only at this juncture, it’s already too late.  He’s swept Sara off her feet and they’ve eloped.  Now what?  Beth again must choose:  stay loyal to Sara and bite her tongue or have a full-out war with Mr. Perfect who is anything but.

Beth’s torn.  I was torn.  Have been torn.  You have too.  We’ve made our choices because we thought they were right and we’ve lived with our choices.  Sometimes that’s been harder than others, but it’s never comfortable.  And, let’s face it.  Sometimes there just aren’t any comfortable choices or even semi, sort-of-comfortable ones.  Every road leads to some kind of heartache, heartbreak or severance.  We all know it.  None of us like it, but we know it.  And so all that’s left is for us to do what we think is right and be at peace with it—whatever comes.

And so that’s what Beth does.  Things are different between her and Sara, of course.  That hurts them, as it would us all.  But they’re adjusting, finding their new normal, though Mr. Perfect isn’t content with that.  He still wants more, and that more means Beth is in his way, and so he sets out to remove her as an obstacle.

Now Mr. Perfect’s pushed.  Hard.  We can relate to that.  Someone’s pushed us, too.  But has he pushed Beth too hard?  He’s missing, then worse, and then worse still—and it appears Beth is a primary suspect.  Surely, in this position, after all that’s come before, Beth’s earned a little “Easy,” right?  Right.  But like too many of us, she doesn’t get it.  Instead she gets another dilemma and is required to make another choice.  Again she suffers torn loyalties.

I’ve written the story, and endured Beth’s dilemmas and wondered how in the world she’d get through them.  I wondered too what getting through them would do to her.  How would she be different?  Would she be bitter?  Lack trust?  Avoid giving her loyalty?  I just didn’t know.  I “think” I know how I’d react, but can we ever be really sure until we’re in the heat of the specific situation?

I do know that inside I railed against the injustice of them, the basic pure and simple truth that what was happening was just plain wrong.  But I have to tell you, I never saw what was coming, and even I couldn’t see how this would resolve.  I mean, okay, Beth’s not going to get easy in any of this—that was abundantly clear.  But did she have to get “you’ve got to be kidding me, that’d have me on my knees for the duration” difficult?

I’m laughing as I write this.  Now.  I sure wasn’t laughing then. Until that point, I was under the delusion that I was deciding what to write.  Well, did I get fooled.  I had to write to see what happened, and how things worked out.

And that brings me to the point of this post.  Life is like that, too. You suffer torn loyalties.  You choose what you believe is right.  Whichever it proves to be, right or wrong, you suffer the consequences.  And sometimes you suffer the consequences others thrust on you that you never see coming.  Sometimes things work out; sometimes they work out in ways you couldn’t have imagined.  The point is, they do work out.

Regardless of how they work out, you always come out the other side of the battle scarred.  Yet there is a certain beauty in those scars.  They’re badges, proof that the experience has made you wiser and stronger. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but I can say that when it was done, I thought, “Whoa, I want what Beth’s got.”

Not her money, though I wouldn’t object to that.  Her self-respect and integrity and her sense of worth—all that’s good.  All that’s welcome.  But what she’s got that I want is something far more valuable.  It’s grace.  Dignity and grace.

I pause here and think back, and I’m betting Beth sleeps good at night and she doesn’t have a bit of trouble meeting her own eyes in the mirror.  Those are the measuring sticks I’ve always used to wade through gray areas, searching for what’s “right.”

So much in our worlds is out of our control.  We are embroiled in more and more difficult choices where there is no easy way out.  Often we’re forced to choose between two painful choices.   But you know, I’m not worried about us.  We’ve all got internal moral compasses and we’re experienced at using them.  (See, all those prior dilemma’s payoff eventually.)

We know to seek and we do.  We know that sometimes we have to take the high road, the hard road, and we do it so that, like Beth, we can meet our own eyes and feel comfortable with what we see inside our souls, inside ourselves.  We can sleep in peace.  And in real life, if we can do that and look back and see dignity and grace, then regardless of what others think or say or do, we’ve won the battle—and it was one worth fighting.



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