I’ve reached a point in my life where I have stopped caring about how I am perceived by others because of my interests, thoughts, or hobbies. I pray, read the Bible, and read Tarot. I am a Quaker, but practice martial arts. I live with hope and idealism yet my all-time favorite artist is Nine Inch Nails.
You get the idea.
Back in the day (up to a few years ago, actually), I never wanted to catch hell for being a hypocrite or “out there.” I wanted to be accepted, normal. It was always implied that variatious aspects my life was inconsistent with what others expected of me, and that such a disconnect was worrisome, a “bad witness,” or just plain strange.
So I buried things. Music I loved, opinions I held, beliefs that bothered me, all packaged and sorted according to whatever criteria would get me through the situation at hand with as little damage as possible. All the while, I was only suffocating myself. No one knew (all of) the real me.
The truth is, though, that contradiction is part of life. It comes with experience. I’ve experienced relentless love and hope, but also abuse, loss, and despair. These realities are all a part of me and my story, so I find ways to express them.
I’ve experienced the power of Christ, and over the past five or so years I’ve also experienced an expansion in my view of God’s activitites in various traditions all over the world. Ergo, my spirituality is hybridized, yet powerful and effective. Some criticize this by saying I’m crafting my religion according to my own rules, but what’s the alternative? Let someone else do it for me? Thanks, but no.
My point is that people are complex. YOU are complex. You have beliefs, hobbies, and insights that are unique to you and your life experience. Further, I bet you have also felt the need to stifle or cover up those unique aspects of yourself for the comfort of others.
What if someone needs to hear you?
What if someone needs to know they’re not alone and you have just the words or interests to make that happen?
What if what you have to contribute could be just what’s needed to add depth and insight to a conversation?
We all have a story that’s supposed to be told. With every story that’s fully expressed and shared, the narrative of humanity gains more depth and meaning. This is indispensible work, as we are constantly being sold oversimplified narratives that serve the powers that be.
So how do we tell our stories? First, we must accept them ourselves. Stop denying the things that make you… You! Secondly, we have to let go of the idea of normality. For every place we “fit in,” we will be alienated from ten others, so outsider opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Finally, we must live out loud. Share what gives you peace and passion. Embrace what makes you kind, what makes you feel. what makes you think. Take your place as a member of the human family and contribute to it in your own way.
Don’t be afraid of contradiction. Embrace tension and mystery. After all, it’s in the midst of these things that life is found.
Peace be with you!