I was reflecting on the comments a friend made to my last post, suggesting that if I were seeking approval, well, there's nothing down that road. It's funny, because as I began to think about it and reflect on my life, I think I've consciously risked disapproval more often than sought anyone's stamp of approval. I mean, this blog was originally intended as a place to talk about my struggle within the Catholic church — as the "inside woman" battling patriarchy, even if big results are never seen in my lifetime. So I serve as an openly gay Eucharistic minister, and I find ways to inspire and empower women in my church — whether it be in a faith-sharing group or by participating in the Mary of Magdala feast day celebration.
As an activist who never shys away from speaking out (or blogging) on the issues of the day, I've received my fair share of disapproval from family and friends. When I took my small kids across the country to participate in an anti-war march in frigid NYC temereratures, I was looked at ascance by many.
And as a teenager, I'm sure my father could tell you what a rebel I was. I certainly wasn't seeking his approval! In fact, I think that I've always been more of a leader than a follower, although I'm not really sure if that's how I've been considered. But I guess that's the entire point: I've rarely thought about approval vs. disapproval when I've acted, particularly when my deeply-held values were being expressed.
So what was all the whining then in my last post? Well, while I don't consider myself an approval whore, I do expect a certain level of understanding and faith from the people I care about. I expect to be given the benefit of the doubt. I expect not to be judged too harshly. Still, even given that those things are sometimes unavoidable, (we're all human, afterall) I've learned that changing one's behavior for other people might win you temporary approval, but at the cost of your integrity.
Ask any of my close friends and they'll tell you that there have been times when they've felt the wrath of my judgement. And they'll also tell you how I've changed in the past few years, and realized that my inclination to judge others was really more about me than it was them. Instead now, I reach for compassion and offer what well-meaning advice is asked of me when someone is making bad choices. Nobody's perfect, but I try to be conscious of any judgemental feelings that crop up and ask myself, what is about this situation that is bringing up resistance within me?
And what about my actions bring up resistance and judgement in those close to me?