The need for approval hums a timeless tune that resounds through the core of the human experience…
Acknowledge me, affirm me, love me, tell me I’m enough.
At the crux of the matter, it’s what we yearn for. As a writer, I can act like I don’t care what other people think about my work. Maybe you can relate. But unless the definition of being a ‘writer’ means ‘writing in a journal’, we both know that someone else (maybe even a stranger —gasp!) might see our work.
This need for approval gets me by the throat all the time.
It wasn’t too bad when I was largely writing things of a secular spiritual nature — things that anyone with a spiritual bone in their body could agree with without too much trouble. But when I turned the corner back towards the Christian faith, things got really shaky.
See, for many years, I questioned whether or not I was a Christian. Because if ‘Christians’ were the people in suits in front of huge auditoriums claiming they had all the answers about how to get into a golden, whitewashed country club in the sky after we croak — I was NOT one of them.
For years, I judged Christians. I lumped them all into the same bag. In my eyes, claiming you were a Christian meant you were also fundamentalist conservative¹, racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, and xenophobic with patriarchial tendencies (all the bad qualities of my childhood upbringing — and our current president and his hurtful theology haven’t made it any easier).
But then, I stumbled on some thinkers, authors, clergypeople, and theologians who showed me something new. They showed me that I could be a Christian without abandoning my brain or any of my more humanistic values. I could be a Christian and believe in evolution, climate change, and affirm my LGBTQIA+ friends and those of color. I could be spiritual, secular, AND religious all at the same time. This is the faith I was called to serve.
And so, I started writing about it. But my own past judgments haunted me. I grew more and more terrified that you, dear reader, would judge me as one of THEM. That you would disapprove of me.
I now understand that I need to confess my past sins of judgment of ‘those Christians’, not to start agreeing with them but to cleanse my soul of this toxicity so I can move forward in my faith. Because lately, my faith has waned. This is proven by my recent aversion to write about it directly.
But then, a miracle happened. I got a few emails… Some comments on the blog… Some 1-on-1 conversations and phone calls with friends and loved ones…
Maybe not a flood of them, but enough.
They told me — in effect — that they missed my reflections about my journey in faith. They encouraged me to consider stepping back into the fold and continue sharing this part of my life.
I had no idea. I just figured that everyone else was judging me as hard as I was judging ‘those Christians’. My judgments were clouding my vision so much that I couldn’t see the truth.
I pray that I can be released from these judgments. They do nothing but tie my tongue and dampen my resolve.
My faith is so weak. This is why I need the faith of something or someone outside of my own to latch onto. I guess this is another reason why I call myself a Christian. Even though I hesitate when I write and stutter when I speak about this faith, there is something fragile inside of me that also rests securely outside of me in Jesus.
I’m thankful for readers who’ve spoken up and nudged me back to my story. I’m grateful that their judgment isn’t as thick as mine. And I’m renewed in their encouragement.
¹Not to disparage all conservatives. I know many who are far more compassionate than I am.
This post was previously published on A Sacramental Life and is republished here with permission from the author.
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