"For every person who might reject you if you live your
truth, there are ten others who will embrace you and welcome you home."
Believe it or not, I honestly can't remember if/when I've ever been personally and openly judged by a self-proclaimed conservative Christian. But I was last night, by a childhood friend no less — actually, we were best friends in grades 4-6 — who finally admitted she has a problem with my path to such an extent that she was unfriending me in Facebook. Yes, the ultimate rejection!
What brought this on was a frustrated, mean-spirited comment she left on this blog post, peppered with smiley faces, happy exclamation points and the suggestion that I stop overanalyzing life and become a Christian, meanwhile taking potshots at my spirituality. I deleted her comment, because I treat all my spaces as sacred space, and sent her a short note explaining what I did. That I read her words as unkind and unsupportive. I said I'm glad she found a path that works for her, and that I have too.
She wrote back. I didn't read her response word for word. Didn't have to. Scanning it, I caught more than enough:
I'm sorry if I hurt you.
You're constantly unhappy.
I don't think your path is working for you.
I'm a conservative Christian and I'm not comfortable with your path.
I'm unfriending you.
I'm not entirely sure what part(s) of my path cause her discomfort, but I can guess. Does it matter? Is it personal? Not for me to say. Honestly, I suspect other historical stuff is playing out here. The fact that I unfriended her in the 7th grade (for being too conservative!) and a couple other decades-old resentments she aired — peppered with smiles and laughter — when we reunited in person a couple years ago. Of course I recognized the stinging beneath the smiles, the old hurts never healed, and I apologized. I did what I could to make amends for the harm I caused her. It was sincerely nice seeing her that time, although also a little strange, her drinking and me not. An ironic twist. I suspected there wouldn't be a next time, and I was fine with that. Despite our differences, we stayed connected via Facebook and had many friendly, supportive exchanges over the years.
Here's the part where I say I know all Christians aren't like my old friend. Most of the Christians I know — Lutherans, Catholics, Protestants, whatever — most of the people I know — are amazingly loving, open, accepting and non-judgmental. Nuns and laypeople alike. I think that's why this smarts a little. It's not the who, it's the ewww. I'm not confronted with bigotry very often and it's jarring when I am. It's incomprehensible, archaic and unnecessary. It's ugly.
Do we really all have to look, believe, vote, feel, think, dress, worship and live the same, or similarly enough, for some to be comfortable?
Who knows, maybe she simply doesn't like who I am. I'm fine with that, too. Because I love who I am. Very much.
Bottom line: I'm not going to let someone's discomfort with who I am stymie, inhibit, edit or stop me from practicing the gifts God gave me. Namely, paying attention to my life. Writing about it. Photographing it. Living it. Cultivating a relationship with God, Spirit, the Creator, my private name for my Higher Power, or whatever name I choose to use. Learning to be the best Carla Blazek I can be, the one God intended me to be. Which, whether I like it or not, constantly involves letting go and moving on.