On allowing myself

July 25, 2010

The problem I have with many religions is being told directly what faith should be, which ends up as someone else’s version of faith. This, in turn, means people are left to break tenets of their religious background or belief system, in order to be themselves. This creates an internal battle between their nature and an imposed outside vision.

– Casey Komcher, A Personal Tao

Isn’t the point of Christianity that God made us imperfect and we need Him to be perfected?

And doesn’t this mean that, every time we are “imperfect,” we are left to feel guilt and shame? Is this guilt and shame justified? Is it there because we know that we are falling short of God’s principals that He has set up for our lives? Or is it there because we’re letting down our parents, our peers, ourselves?

As a child, there were strict restrictions that existed on what I was allowed to see and hear. I was heavily encouraged to go to AWANA and memorize Bible scriptures. It made my parents happy, and it made them speak highly of me to the other parents. Because of this, I decided to focus hard on being the best at AWANA so that I could make my parents very happy with me.

On the other hand, my parents would never let me watch much of the television or movies that my friends loved, nor could I listen to much of the music that my friends listened to. The Simpsons, South Park, and MTV were all things that were banned in our household until I was in high school, well beyond the years where my friends were exposed to these things. The only music that I listened to until I was in Jr. High was anything “oldies” or Radio Disney. Even in Jr. High, the bulk of the music I listened to was Christian music, because it was approved by my parents. The first time I said a curse word was an accident; I asked my friend what a particular word meant, and she started laughing and saying how funny it was that I was cussing. While my friends could all, at ten years old, make references to something Hannibal Lector did, I could only say for the hundredth time “I’m not allowed.”

And still, I’m not a very extreme case. I know many friends, one in particular, who, to this day, are still being held to a very extreme standard of behavior by their parents. As for myself, despite the fact that most of these things were forbidden, I would find ways in which to explore them anyway. I watched MTV when I was alone at my grandmother’s house; I peeped through my parents fingers when they would cover up sexual things on the television screen; and, like a normal pre-teen and teen, I grew to swear on a regular basis (something that I spoke about with a therapist, once, in tears, feeling so torn between what I wanted to do and what I was supposed to do; she was simply bemused).

And then there is me now. If I still identified as Christian, I would be labeled the worst Christian of all time- I love wine, Lady Gaga, the gays, and- heaven forbid!- rap music.

But at the same time, I love people, I love people with autism, I love music therapy, I love my dog, I love. While many would tell me that the aforementioned things are deadly to my soul, to me they are just being true to my soul, because they are all a part of loving myself.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Abbey July 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I think you’re right, to an extent. I also think that the idea of being “the worst christian ever” is not true. The stuff you’re addressing here (cussing, rap music, drinking etc.) are all considered gray areas. To your parents you might be “the worst christian ever,” but to other people, it’s not a big deal. There are specific things that the Bible says not to do (see the ten commandments for a good example. :P) but the rest of the stuff doesn’t matter so much. When I was on my Europe trip I was talking to one of the professors, and I think he gave me the best advice I’ve ever had. He said “love God, and do whatever you want.” Not meaning that you have a free pass to sin, but being an adult, it’s ok to make a choice to drink, or cuss or whatever. As long as you’re not clearly sinning, who cares what other people’s values are? Uphold your own values and you’ll be fine :)

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