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A Masterful Ruse

It's a strange thing to have a significant part of several years of your life cast in an entirely new light. As some of you have figured out, a good friend of mine with whom I have been very close for a number of years has been exposed as faking a good portion of her life. She reads this blog, and I hope she reads this, because since she has been found out she won't talk to me at all. Maybe this is my best hope at communicating with her.

This person came into my life as the new friend of a good friend. She showed up at our campus ministry student center at OU one night, I believe it was during the 2000-2001 school year. She was a resident on the floor where my friend was an RA. She came from a horrific background - her family was abusive and distant, she was the product of divorces and disinterest. She loved the party scene at OU and constantly checked out of life in a number of self-abusive ways. She had been part of several girls on that floor who loved to hate my RA friend - until one day when she was walking down the hall and my friend was trying to put up a large sheet of paper on a bulletin board. She stopped to help and soon discovered that this RA wasn't so bad after all and my friend invited her into her dorm room to hang out. She did, and it was the beginning of a relationship that would ultimately see this freshman student becoming a Christian and embarking on a remarkable turnaround path in her life. Up until a few months ago she still told the story of praying for the first time inside this RA's room and how nervous she was and how she had no idea how to pray. And just a few months ago she returned from leading her fifth six week mission team abroad to teach the Gospel to a hungry world. She devoured the Bible and C.S. Lewis. She became an active part of the campus ministry. Despite baggage that still plagued her from her former life, the transformation that God was leading her through was tremendous. I soon became fast friends with her and she and I would ultimately become one of the closest friends that each of us has had.

Despite her turnaround and the path of faith that she embarked upon, tragedy and misfortune would continue to strike at her. Her mother would succomb to a ravaging cancer and die at a young age. Not long after, her brother would be found in a remote barn far west of Oklahoma City, stabbed several times in an apparent suicide (which she thought was foul play). Her father would savagely beat her with a fire poker, breaking two of her ribs which would ultimately punture and destroy part of her lungs and send her to Ohio for emergency surgery. Her stomach would be plagued by ulcers for almost two years, but would actually turn about to be an advanced stage of stomach cancer, almost surely terminal. Through all of these events and stages in life, innumerable people would come to her aid, almost all from the community of faith that surrounded her. She was taken in, housed, given untold amounts of aid, surrounded by friends, supported, cared for, and loved. In a series of events that we all chalked up to the provision of God, a random wealthy woman in Oklahoma City came forward and began to cover all of her bills and living expenses.

But something began unraveling a couple of months ago when she came back from her latest mission adventure to Peru and proceeded to endorse the breakup of the marriage of a girl on the team so she and her could come together as lesbian lovers. In a phone call to me, she renounced any belief she had in Christianity with the full expectation of the endorsement of the community around her. This was a major disappointment to me but I determined to still show her the love and support that she needed as a person and as a friend. It actually seemed to surprise her that her view of Christ and lifestyle choices had no bearing on my desire to maintain a friendship with her.

But then the big one hit. After the investigative efforts of a couple of people close to her that had become suspicious, it was revealed that everything that she had ever led anyone to believe about her was false. Her mom is alive and well, as is her brother. There is no cancer. Her surgery was fake. Everything that she had ever led anyone to believe was a lie. She is not who she says she is.

In the matter of a moment, the entire existence of one of my best friends became an illusion.

For many reasons, this makes me feel like an idiot. All of the sneaking questions I had about some things, but never took seriously, have turned out to be true. It's a strange feeling when all of your images are shattered but it somehow makes sense at the same time. It conveniently worked out that no one could go to either the funeral of her mom or her brother. She would never tell anyone who her cancer doctors were and never would let anyone come to her chemo or radiation treatments. She never showed the real signs of cancer, but I wrote a lot of that off. She never told anyone about her excursion to Ohio for surgery until after the fact. This made me angry because I could have gone with her to help her. She never showed any scars from the surgery. She never wanted to talk about her mom or her death much. She never let anyone meet her immediate family, except for one time when her younger brother came to Norman. It didn't make sense to me that they gave her no support. I chalked it up to them not caring about her, which I know is a reality in the world. But it really didn't make sense to me that her grandparents, who I had met and who loved her very much, gave her no support. It is probably because she never let them in on the con she was running, and for good reason.

A few years ago there was a TV show on SpikeTV called the Joe Schmoe Show. This was a parody of reality TV shows set up so that all of the people in the show were actors playing a character except for one guy. To him, the show was the real deal and all of these people were trying to win just like him. They did the most ridiculous and outrageous things, but this guy was so honest, sincere, and trusting that he simply went along with it and shrugged off all of the crazy stuff that was happening. He genuinely cared about all of these people, which drove the producers into such guilt at one point that they considered cancelling the whole operation. But ultimately the weirdest thing they did was put in a character who was "the pal." This guy was to become best friends with the guy and be his confidant during the show, which he pulled off masterfully. During the last episode they revealed that the whole thing had been set up, which really drove the guy crazy. But a heart-wrenching scene happened when he turned to the guy who was his friend and ask him, sincerely, "are you an actor too?" The actor had to say yes, which sent the real guy to his knees in tears because everything he had shared with this person as a friend had been completely fake.

Thankfully, I know that my world is not fake. I have just happened to encounter and befriend a masterful actor.

Please pray for her heart. I know that God can still do amazing, and real, things with her if she ever wants it.


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