It’s true I’m not one to shy away from confrontation, but many times I have held my tongue when people have said things I have disagreed with just to avoid the condemnation that follows. This is especially true in terms of my faith – where I figure I’m not out to change the mind of anyone else, I’m just trying to live my life as peacefully as possible.
I’m basically a live and let live kind of gal.
I’m not the kind of Christian who will use every opportunity to preach. I don’t pass on those horrible chain messages that say if you don’t forward this you are ashamed of your faith, etc. I’m not ashamed of my faith, I just figure what I have between me and God pretty much should stay between me and God and that’s not something that needs to be pushed off on anyone else. I am highly sensitive to the fact not everyone believes like I do and make allowances for it. I try to treat everyone else with the same respect I want for my beliefs.
Not everyone else feels likewise. And I’ve discovered that while I’m not ashamed of my faith I’m not going to make excuses for it either.
It has been tested fairly regularly when someone who is not a believer tries to paint all of us with the same hateful brush. Christianity is like any other thing – it depends on how it’s used by the individual or group of individuals. By itself, it isn’t particularly harmful (unless you get a hair up your butt that worshipping a God is a bad thing because it “enslaves” you to submitting your control over to something else besides yourself.)
True Christianity promotes charity, love, mercy and tolerance. Anyone who uses it for any other purpose has got the message clearly and utterly wrong, and Jesus himself admonished that they will come before him one day thinking that they are righteous only to learn that he will say, “I never knew you.”
For all the evil done in the name of Christianity – and yes, there has been plenty – there has also been a lot of good too. A lot of people get it wrong, but a lot of people get it right, and I think their influence is far more lasting and positive (Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa spring immediately to mind.)
Lumping us all together not only is unfair to those who do good in the name of Jesus, but it takes away the individual responsibility of those who do evil in his name.
Not to mention it doesn’t take into account that there are plenty of us around who can worship Jesus and denounce the evil of organized religion in the same breath. (Kinda like Jesus himself did.)
For instance, I take extreme exception to the Westboro “Baptist” cult in Kansas. These are the folks I regularly take to task for their hypocrisy and their using Jesus to further their own hateful, bigoted philosophies. I didn’t let GWB get away with it, I have publicly admonished Sarah Palin and other Christians-for-Show who use religion as nothing more than a label so that they can manipulate and control.
I charged after the hate group Repent Amarillo when I found out about them, and fully support the candidate who has chosen to oppose the leader of that group who is now running for mayor. The candidate I support happens to be transgender, btw… because I’m the kind of Christian who supports gay causes.
(We exist. I promise.)
That means I get it from BOTH sides, but usually I only really fight against the religious folks who wish to kick me out of the group because of the people I choose to surround myself with…. which, if you think about it… is quite “Christian” (or Christ-like.)
But here’s the thing; bigotry is bigotry no matter how politically correct it is to have it. It may be “cool” and “hip” to denounce Christianity and gleefully pounce on every fall from grace any high-profile preacher happens to take, but it’s still ignorant to lump every single person who calls themselves a Christian under that umbrella.
But denouncing the whole of Christianity is like saying all Muslims are terrorists, or all Wiccans are evil, something that these same people would likely get in a tizzy over.
I find it ironic that the people who hate Christianity so much get their panties in a twist about how other religions are demonized. But I get it, I mean I understand how many people who claim to be Christian have no other goal than to demonize unbelievers… so I get why the fight is so personal. But your fight isn’t with me and I’m still being lumped into the group – which makes the fight very personal to me.
So I kinda hafta speak out now.
So yeah… in these early days of creating my brand and trying to build a fan base I’m kinda done being a doormat who is going to let you get away with that kind of stuff. I’m going to take you to task for it just the same as I would anyone who would protest a mosque being built or fight against gay marriage or health care reform.
It wouldn’t be Christian of me NOT to.
By that same token, I’m not having much problem telling people I already know if I disagree with their opinions… particularly when it comes to negative opinions about me. If people think something about me I don’t think is fair or right, I’m gonna speak up about it now – even if that means I lose a friend.
I used to have a pattern when I would get into friendships that I would either take control of the friendship or surrender control to the other person. I’m very sensitive to this subtle power play and would assume, however unconsciously, a role of dominance or submission depending on the individual involved. Some friends I would allow to be the “leader” – they get to call the shots and I’m just along for the ride. Should they could speak down to me and I’d allow it, because I had already put them in a position “over” me.
Likewise there were friends I’d meet and know that I was the dominant force in the friendship. I wouldn’t speak down to them, but I did assume a sort of “parenting” role where I would guide them and be one to “correct” them when I thought they were wrong…which was something I never did with those other friends I was, in fact, in submission to.
This is a pattern that has repeated itself over and over all through my life, and has resulted in a batch of relationships that aren’t really “friendships.” There isn’t a mutual respect there because when someone allows you to dominate them to the level they have given you their self esteem you’re not going to respect them – not really. That will become a “friendship” of convenience, one you dig out and brush off whenever you need to feel superior to someone else.
That’s not to say I don’t have honest relationships with those where the balance of power is pretty equal. Jeff of course would be the best example for this, and probably why our friendship is so strong, so constant and so enduring. But in the beginning I did let him sit in the driver’s seat, and throughout our teen years I deferred to him as the “dominant” in the relationship.
He never assumed the position for himself, though. He never needed to feel superior to me, so the balance of power ultimately shifted to where we were more on an even keel. He loved me enough to let me grow and respected me enough that when I finally decided I deserved to stand beside him instead of behind him, he was happy for my progress.
It made our relationship even stronger.
And maybe the reason some of my other relationships didn’t survive was because I didn’t trust in them enough to try. It takes a helluva whole lot for me to trust people, if I ever really completely do. I automatically assume, especially in those relationships I submit to, that I am not good enough to be an equal so if I try to assert any type of power I’ll immediately be rejected or abandoned.
Since those are my two key fears, I will back the hell away from confrontation and allow myself to be treated less than. I agree with the assessment and am afraid of being proven right.
Lately though, my feelings have shifted. As I move forward on this unstoppable journey I want to surround myself with people who believe I’m good enough to stand at their side. I’m tired of feeling like the dog under the table begging for scraps, or the person on the doorstep who isn’t good enough to come inside. If I want to be a success – in anything – then I should claim that value *right now*… not just when I get to some magical point in the future that is determined by anyone else than me.
If I ever hope to put a stop to my own self-abuse, that means no one else gets to do it either. I’m constructing boundaries now on everyone, including myself, that says certain behavior will no longer be tolerated.
So that means I’m going to be standing up for myself as much as I stand up for my beliefs – and the chips will just have to fall where they may.
If that sounds scary it is because it is. I am an extremely strong personality – as anyone who has ever crossed me has learned. The minute I decide I am in the fight, I am *in* it. And it is that power that, once wielded properly, will enable me to have the life of my dreams.
I just need to do it without getting pissed off first, because me being pissed off is REALLY scary.
Once the day comes when I decide I’m worth the things I want in this life I will finally truly be on the road to having them. Every single relationship I have with anyone will be more honest, more open and more loving for it. Those will be the true friendships because I will no longer feel I have to play a part or be anyone other than myself to be loved and accepted. Ultimately it boils down to I don’t have to be scared that I will lose anyone for being truly me, because those who already love me will continue to do so – and those who don’t never would have anyway.
So I’m gonna be me.
Today’s the day I realize… that’s enough.