Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Against The Grain

I am angry.  
I am angry that maturity is not rewarded in the way I want to be.
I am angry that to go against the grain is hard as hell.
I am angry that I learned how to be my own worst enemy all too well.

Interestingly enough though, what I’m not angry about gives insight to what growth is taking place with in me.

I’m not angry with the man behind the curtain these days, because clearly I am up against a far more personal anger.  I’d love to continue projecting the darkness inside of me and blame my rage on some institution (the church), some power mogul (business/media), some representative (the government), or some attachment figure (the mom and dad), but I’ve hit midlife now, time to be more honest.

I am angry that being accepted has been the bottom line for me, even into adulthood.  It has not been about being responsible, having integrity, or following my unique path.  Instead, I have spent much energy craving acclamation and validation because I was afraid to trust me.  In my insecurity, I have made the mistake of listening to other voices instead of my own and welcomed bitterness to fester.  Here’s the thing though, gaining acceptance from others at the expense of accepting myself, has proved to be a toxic choice and it has taken much energy to walk that choice back.  Time has taught me that when I am surrounded by experts that are not my own voice, I am in dangerous territory.  And those voices might be real people but they might also be the projection of my own fear...regardless, I lose if those are the voices I listen to instead of my own internal guide.

Enough of that though...I’ve got enough life under my belt to see the results of my choices and I’m good with what has happened as a result following my internal voice.  And the interesting side note...I’ve lived enough life to know that the loud voices of objection to my life choices aren’t around to evaluate the resolution of my decisions.  They are too busy living their lives...because their words were never truly about me.  

Here is the pocket of grace:
Liberty really is the brass ring it claims to be.   

It is completely within my right to live however I see fit, so long as I don’t restrict someone else’s freedom or injure.  I’ve mostly made my own path in this life so far and I’m good with that, but I am angry that I let myself feel miserable for taking the road less traveled.  It has been an unnecessary pain.

There are many areas where I have tortured myself for choosing the unconventional, yet in time, what was once unconventional moved into mainstream and I’ve learned something really important about that... 

If an unconventional path is a better way of living, then I’m probably not the only one being led in that direction.  Good ideas and solid life practices spread.  Stepping out in faith is worth it.

Three really good examples from my life come through seemingly disconnected areas of living; body art, blogging, and bonding.  These three issue tie together to highlight the truth that going a different direction than most, specifically because you believe the pack is heading in the wrong direction, is wisdom...not a liability.

Body Art:
Body art has been a positive tool of expression of self for me, yet I walked in conventional circles during my 20’s, so I faced a backlash from folks who thought tattoos and piercings represented something really bad.  It was awesome that I eventually got to see body art be embraced as an art form.  Shortly after that, I got to observe the same folks who questioned my character, my faith, my sanity, embrace the movement.  Why yes, I most certainly remember the unkind words spewed at me and I’m angry that I let that fester for too long.  

I don’t care if all the cool kids are blogging now...I’ve been doing it for almost a decade and it has been an amazing experience for me, even when folks did not appreciate my words.  Yet recently, I’ve been growing concerned about this platform, because the blogging world is morphing into something I am uncomfortable with.  Blogging has challenged me to be honest about my view of the world, but now I see blogging being twisted into some virtual advertising agency designed to elicit a vacuum of jealousy and desire in others.  I believe that blogging is about speaking individual truth.  It is about documenting the mundane, as it adds up to something really important...a lifestyle.  A belief system.  A putting your money where mouth is sort of exercise....not about monetization.  I want blogging to continue to be about questioning the status quo...not becoming an agent of the systemic need to control. 

I wore my babes in slings when that was still novel in this culture.  I fielded questions about why I needed to hold my babies all the time.  I did not need to hold my babies...they needed to be held.  It was an act of discipline to put my kids’ needs ahead of my own in appropriate ways, not an act of giving into my kids’ every whim.  I had faith that it would be only for a season and as it turns out that belief was right.  For the record, baby wearing is a sweaty mess and sometimes it really sucked.  Then again sometimes it was heaven on earth...but contrary to what others warned me of, I am not still carrying them around out of a dependence I crippled them with.  Somewhere in toddlerhood they each started running away from the slings and I saw that as progress...not something to mourn.

I read and then promptly discarded faith based *parenting books* that implored me to train my children in rigid ways (Growing Kids God’s Way, aka Babywise, aka the Infant Way, and To Train Up A Child).  I believe babies show up to this world deserving dignity and grace.  They are human and thus sinful, but training them out of expressing their needs doesn’t make sense to me.  I tend to sin more when my needs are unmet, so how can these little people be any different?  I still believe in discipline and my kids are making their way just fine, potty trained, sleeping independently, and mostly making good choices as they navigate the world.  I am angry I worried so much...I rely on the bond I have with each kid every day.  Bonding was time well spent.

In the end though the bottom line is this...

I’m angry with myself because I spent too much time obsessing over other people’s opinions about how I expressed myself artistically, be it through body art or blogging.  I’m angry that I cared so much about other people’s opinions concerning how I mother my children.  And I am sad it took me until now to make peace with these truths, but I am filled with hope just the same, because I believe I’ll never waste such time again.

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