Monday, August 22, 2011

Standing True

Hatred.  The word is like a punch in the face.  The very diction has a poignant hiss.  When I've heard the word said, I notice that there seems to be well placed emphasis on the sound of the first letter.  It's like the speaker wants to you to listen up and take notice of what's coming.  No one ever asks what it means.  It always leaves me with a slimy feeling in my spirit to hear the word spoken.

I've been on both sides of the fence.  Lately, it's me feeling the sting.  Not an overwhelming blow that takes you out in one round but a constant stream of short little snaps.  Just when you think that last one stopped smarting it comes again. Snap!  I wish it would stop but it's not going to.  It might even get worse.  You see, I've lived my life pretty harmoniously with most people all my life.  I wanted to blend, fit in.  Sure, I had this thing that I knew deep down inside me.  I told a few people about it and they promised not to judge.  They seemed to be fine with it as long as I never talked about it. I would make them feel uncomfortable, they claimed.  By seeking to win their approval, I agreed.  I could try to live a normal life and forget about what I knew about me.  That nagging, that longing to just be me.  I hid it for so long.  I thought, no one would like me if they knew and once you make a statement like that publicly, well you'd better start living up to it.  No, best not to rock the boat. Besides, what would people think?

The truth about me almost got forgotten for a little while.  I did such a good job of blending in that I even forgot what I knew about me.  You can get good at keeping secrets for a while. Some lies can go on for so long that even you can start to believe them.  Then I thought, I could live two lives.  Lots of people do it.  There could be the me that everyone sees and then the me that only certain people see.  I could do that.  What would it hurt?  It would be better than just keeping it all inside.  I could have my little outlet and then I could go back to the me that the world sees and everyone would be happy, except me.  What if the little crowd of people who knew the real me saw me out with the rest of the world acting like them?  What would I say?  Could I tell my little crowd who I was on the outside?  Certainly not.  They would be upset with me. They'd tell me that I really wasn't like them if I had to hide so I just kept the outside me to myself with my little crowd and hoped that the two would never mix.  I thought it would be easy but it started getting really complicated. 

There came a day of reckoning between the two.  I decided that I couldn't go on pretending to be something I was not. I was tired of feeling ashamed of living two lives and never feeling complete.  It's funny, when you have a day like that you all of the sudden don't care what people think any more.  You just want to be you.  You don't care who knows you or what they say about you. You just want to be you and have everyone love you for who you are or go away quietly. 

I tell everyone about who I am now.  I am freer than I've ever been. I've never known joy and peace like I do now.  I am loved, wanted, secure and protected.  I am whole now.  It isn't without it's price though.  I had plenty of friends, family even, who told me they loved me for who I am.  I believed them. I believe that they almost think that it's true, but they don't.  They tell me they accept who I am but then go on and make fun of people just like me.  They make jokes, post cartoons making fun of who I am.  They criticize what I stand for and what I love about who I am.  They tell me that I am okay, it is just the others like me that they don't like.  Why am I special?  Snap!  It stings.  Every mention, sneer, jab, joke, sarcastic comment hurts a little at a time.  Snap!  I try to stand up for myself and all I get is that they are sorry to offend but they don't stop. They want people like me to feel bad about who we are. It's not right, it's not fair but if I want to stand true I am going to have to take a few hits.  It's worth it.  Being content with who I am is a great payment for the pain. 

People who claim that I'm a hater are the ones who hurl the worse things at me. No one wants to have parades to make me feel good about my life decision.  You can say whatever you want about me but make sure you get it right when you call me names.  I am not a bible thumper, a holy roller or a religious nut.  I am a Jesus Freak and I'm proud. 

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