October 30, 2007

Black Sheep

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?


vegan.mama said...

You know, I never really thought about it consciously before but, yes, you have become less judgmental. I think about that nasty argument we got embroiled in a couple of years ago, and that would never happen today. I'm glad I've known you through so much of our growth -- sometimes I feel like we are water holding each other's boats up until we can figure out how to make it to shore. OK, bad analogy, but it had good intentions.

Anima Sola said...

Hah, well, I'll take a boat with water under it to a dry riverbed any day. I guess it shouldn't come as any suprise that many of judgmental fits of the past were somehow tied in with women and sexuality and/or traditional norms.

vegan.mama said...

Well, all of these growth spurts are ones you damned well know we're going to laugh about when we're 50 or 60 and our own kids are grappling with the same issues. Though, of course, they are going to handle their own 20s and 30s with much more grace and aplomb because they had US as their mothers, whereas we had weird and crazy dysfunctional people "raising" us...