In response to criticism of things that define me

free-hugsToday is National Hug an Atheist Day.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. I do have some atheist friends and I probably will hug them today – not because of what day it is, but because that’s our relationship: we see each other often and we tend to hug in greeting. Though I’m “Christian-y,” I do count atheists among some of my closest friends. Likewise do I have close friends who hold opposing political belief and even those who think recovery is a total crock. If you’ve read the “About” section, or have had any sort of conversation with me, you know these three things pretty much make up who I am – my God, my politics and my recovery. I am defensive of all three and have easily alienated many people by engaging in passionate discourse. I’ve got one person who has defriended me about 6 times on Facebook because we are at such odds.

How can I not be passionate about what defines me?

22879840I’m not saying I have to throw it in everyone’s face, nor try to make everyone conform to my way of life, but seriously, passion is gratitude on fire and that is how I feel about my life. For so many years, I had no idea what defined me. I went where people told me to go, did what people told me to do and behaved in ways that others expected me to. I rarely had any emotional connection to ME, even though I was little more than a ball of emotion. I’m still trying to work out exactly what my real personality looks like and what to do with these gifts that God has given me. All I know is that along the line, I’ve tried on all these different clothes and finally I’ve found some that really fit. Just like when you’re wearing the wrong size clothes, life is very uncomfortable when you haven’t been able to define who you really are. You end up in all sorts of embarrassing situations where you’re picking wedgies all day or you accidentally flash a nipple in addition to the daily squirmy-ness, tugging, trying to make things fit right. Clothes that fit don’t just make you more comfortable, but they enhance your natural beauty making you appear more YOU.

The clothes make the man.

What may be a perfect fit for me might just make you uncomfortable. And that’s okay, I don’t have to wear your clothes. Too many people live their lives without ever contemplating the clothes they put on to define themselves. Kris KrossThere are adults everywhere still walking around in that stupid little sailor costume their mommies made them wear for their Sears portrait. People wake up praying to a God they don’t believe in, voting for policies they abhor and generally living lives that are not their own. They’ve taken clothes by top name designers and put them on inside out and backwards. They look foolish and they’ve given the designer a bad name.

But it’s not the fault of the designer.

I’m not saying that mine is the right way to wear the beliefs which define me and that all others are wrong. Rather, that criticism of philosophies I adhere to are sometimes internalized as an overall devaluing of my self as a whole. I like to think that my friends and I exhibit enough mutual respect for our sometimes violently oppositional beliefs that we aren’t just masochists looking for a fight, but that we can admire the way our chosen ideological clothing accentuates our natural beauty.

Maybe it’s about prejudice.

I don’t really feel the need to defend Christianity as a whole, nor recovery nor politics. I know what these things mean to me and how they enhance my life. It does make me sad, though, when others wear my brand of clothing without trying it on first, looking in the mirror or getting someone to teach them how to wear it properly. Live-Beautifully2How many people have the Westboro Baptist Church and the KKK turned away from God? How many Lindsay Lohans have “proven” that recovery doesn’t work?

Or maybe it’s about living deliberately.

No matter what your beliefs are, thank you for living them. Thank you to those of you who have looked in the mirror and made adjustments where necessary so that what you put on yourself enhances you instead of hiding you. Thank you for standing out beautifully and deliberately instead of rockin’ the ’80s bangs and acid-washed jeans because you thought they looked hot on Madonna once upon a time. We’re all in this thing together, so let’s try to show off our best selves. Too much wedgie-picking leads to too much boat rocking.

Oh yeah, she did.

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