“When we are set free from the bondage of pleasing others,
when we are free from currying others approval-
then no one will be able to make us miserable or dissatisfied.
And then, if we know we have pleased God,
contentment will be our consolation.
I think one of the big lessons I’ve learned in my life is that it’s useless to worry about what other people think about you. You’ll never please everyone, and someone will always have something critical to say no matter what you do.
I decided to become Catholic about 13 years ago, after a lot of struggle and prayer. Beloved came to the Church through an intellectual process; he read Church Fathers and realized that the things they taught are what the Catholic Church teaches now. My trip was more about realizing that the doctrines made sense and I saw the Catholic Church standing firm on issues like contraception and abortion when all other “denominations” watered down their beliefs or caved in completely to society.
I don’t care to live the way society tells me to live – it’s not good for my soul to try to conform to what the media or the loudest voices say.
I’ve had to struggle to keep my convictions strong and that struggle has strengthen them. My birth family, all of whom are very dear to me, is not Catholic and there have been some moments of contention about that, some of them quite emotional and harsh, but I have to go with where I believe truth is.
Recently, the issue of standing up for your convictions in the face of vocal dissent came home to me. Last night, in fact.
A political discussion/emotional debate has broken out on the email chat loop of our local RWA chapter. Someone innocently posted what I call a “Yea, America” essay that’s been going around the internet. One of our active members spoke up, pointing out that the essay wasn’t by the supposed author, then went on to lay out her opinions which she unashamedly labeled as liberal. She made the unfortunate claim that “die hard conservatives” aren’t willing to read or hear any other opinions. She also said she’d debate anyone as long as they proved back up for their facts. She provided none for hers.
I answered in a brief email that basically said I was offended by her contention that I wasn’t willing to read any other opinions and stated that she demanded proof for my statements but offered none ofher own.
She came back with an apology for the offensive comment but said that while she knew what she said was true (i.e. people having to choose between putting gas in the car and feeding their children), there was no documentation to “prove that.”
I let it go after that because I’m not a good debater and last year I was “tarred” with the “rude and mean” brush by members of the chapter. I wasn’t willing to risk that again.
Then a friend came home from a trip to all this and spoke up quite vehemently on the conservative side of the issue. Her posts were passionate and accurate, and I began to fear, as the posts went back and forth, that tempers were running high and our chapter could split.
Last night, I privately emailed my friend and we chatted a bit about what has been going on and she said that no one was stepping forward to defend either position – it came down to her and the other woman posting alone.
I had written my own emotional email, outlining some of my personal experience, mainly about the birth/adoption of my kids and how that affected my pro-llife stance, but I had only sent it out to a couple of people.
When I realized that my friend had the courage to stand up for her convictions and was doing it alone, I felt the need to stand up for mine, so I rewrote the post, providing links to articles backing up my statements, and posted to the loop.
I haven’t heard anything yet, except praise from this this friend about my ability to use words, and I went to bed last night worried about the fallout.
However, when I saw today’s quote, I thought about it. I hadn’t flamed anyone nor posted anything but my own opinions and if I’m not willing to be vocal about pro-life and family issues, how can I expect to be an effective witness? If I am so worried about being considered rude and mean that I don’t stand up for what I know is right, what good am I?
Pleasing others is not the way to eternal life. People will always let you down. God is the only one I need to please, and I pray that my words last night, and here, please him and I am truly sorry if they don’t.