I’m not going to lie…I get extremely nervous when I meet someone new and they friend request me on facebook the next day.
It’s silly…but I get nervous.
I get nervous because they might see a part of my identity.
I get nervous because as they see the types of things I post on my facebook they will quickly see that I am… Catholic.
I don’t want people to think that I am judging them or disapproving of them or anything about them once they find out I’m Catholic.
I have this fear….because I probably am guilty of doing just that (because let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be afraid of that if I had never been the “judgmental Catholic” before).
But I have…and I am genuinely sorry for that.
I have felt a lot of pressure and discomfort for being Catholic in my very liberal and progressive graduate program. (And don’t get me wrong…I don’t think being liberal or progressive are bad things…but these ideologies typically don’t have the greatest sentiment towards Catholicism).
However…once I sucked up my pride and stopped trying to always be defensive about my beliefs…I learned way more about what it means to be authentically Catholic.
I think most people make the mistake of thinking that we cannot learn from the people we disagree with. I know I did.
For some reason I thought everyone was trying to convert me away from being Catholic and I got defensive. In turn I probably came off as trying to convert everyone else to Catholicism…and made others defensive. This creates a terrible cycle of “you’re wrong, I’m right” “no, you’re wrong, I’m right”.
I had this misconception that no one in my program would really “understand” me because they didn’t understand Catholicism.
I was wrong.
I have never felt more understood and respected than by those in my program who have completely different beliefs than I do. And we are friends. We are good friends.
We challenge each other, we call each other out on our inconsistencies, we encourage one another, and mostly…we are raw, real, and authentic with one another.
They give me the space to be my authentic self (Catholicism and all) and I give them the space to be their authentic self.
I used to think that I had to prove myself and explain my Catholic faith at all times.
I learned that it’s never about proving a point.
I learned that the moment we start feeling the need to prove a point…we stop being “real” and we start being judgmental, harsh, cold, defensive, prideful, close-minded, and unapproachable.
I learned that I shouldn’t be Catholic to prove a point.
It’s not about winning an argument.
It’s not about asserting my world-view onto others.
It’s about being real and authentic.
Yes…being authentically Catholic will lead to argument-like discussions…but fruit can come from those discussions when defenses are down and there is no “agenda” of trying to persuade, convert, or convince someone.
People don’t want to be convinced.
They want to be real.
When we are real, we can grow.
When we are real we can begin to understand people, and why we do the things that we do.
When we are real, there is space for us to seek truth.
And this is how I want to be… real.
And yes…part of me being real is going to be being Catholic as well, and I hope that’s ok.
But I want you to be real too, and I want to be your friend, defenses down, no hidden agenda, just a real friend.