Have you ever felt self-conscious about what you wanted to do? Where you think twice about what you were about to do because others might think that it’s weird? Are you afraid of what people might think about you? This happens to me in a lot of different situations, and I don’t feel good when this happens, because people look at me as if I’m defective (maybe you would too if you saw me dance…).
The Problem: Silent Judgement
Our society today claims that it is the most accepting of all of history, and in most cases that is correct. But when it comes to not fitting into society, we all feel this self-consciousness. As the culture says, “All are welcome!”, I feel as if it is actually saying, “All are welcome, unless you make us feel uncomfortable by being different in any way.” Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like I can’t be myself in public.
I am especially talking about religion here when I’m talking about silent judgment. I feel that if I am open and completely live out my faith that I am going to get judged for “forcing” my religion on others. I feel like other people will be uncomfortable, and then blame me for it. This has a lot to do with what Father Mike talks about in his homily: Being Unoffendable. You should listen to that (after reading this, of course).It’s because of that self-consciousness from the judgement of others that I don’t live out the life I believe in completely.
Let me reiterate that: I don’t live out my life completely in the way that I believe because of what other people might think about me.
That doesn’t make sense! So what if others might think about me differently?! If I truly believed that this is the way I should live my life, than I wouldn’t be self-conscious of what others thought.
To clarify, you should care what people think about you if those people are your friends and they see you not living healthily. Those that know you are striving towards in life can see if you are straying off the path that Jesus laid down for you and me. Listen to them; they know what’s up. If someone that you trust does say that you’re straying, take that to prayer with you or look at Scripture. Are you following Christ’s call?
My Proposition for You: Be a Fool
Be someone that seems ridiculous because you are open and honest with people. Practice being vulnerable and out in the open. Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from the Gospels: John 21 – specifically verses 7 and 8. The apostles went fishing and didn’t catch anything until Jesus (who they didn’t recognize) told them to cast over the right side of the boat.
“So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with fish.”
I love this. Peter finds out it’s Jesus and immediately jumps into the water because he’s honest with himself; he wants to see Jesus. I imagine the apostles looking at Peter and thinking, “Calm down, dude. We’re super close to shore, all we have to do is turn the boat around and we’re there with Jesus, except we’re not wet.” Peter seems to be a fool in this situation and a lot of others, too (he’s always the one that speaks up and acts rash). But what does Jesus do with the guy who acts like a fool? He makes him the first pope! He makes the fool the first Holy Father!
Jesus made it abundantly clear for us; we will be persecuted and judged and exiled for following Him. That’s because the things that Jesus taught us were (and still are) very radical.
- Live for others, and not yourself.
- Forgiveness and mercy.
- Faith and trust in God the Father.
- Humbleness and charity.
- Hope and confidence.
Jesus’ teachings go against everything that the world tells us to do, but more importantly, they tell us to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of what others will think of you. Live out these teachings like your life depends on it – because it does! Are you going to let the way others think about you get in the way of spending eternity in heaven with the God that loves us?! I’m not!
A life without any fear, without any worry, without any doubt, without any self-consciousness: that is radical. But it’s also difficult, because we’re human.
My swimming coach used to have a saying that completely changed my practice habits:
“The only way to grow and to get better is to become comfortable being uncomfortable.” –Gordy Rodby
Why aren’t we the people that God is calling us to be? The life of a saint is uncomfortable (St. Longinus had his teeth ripped out, and St. Simeon Stylites stood on a pillar for 37 years). We would rather be comfortable. But if we make ourselves uncomfortable regularly, we can grow to become saints. Saints inspire people for generations with the way they live their lives because they’re so different than any other.
I have a friend who lives this way. They live with an openness and honesty that inspires me. Sure some of the things that come out of their mouth are odd, but when I look at them, I see someone who abandons any pride to do what’s right. They follow Jesus with everything they have and because of this; they live poorly by the world’s standards. But they are rich in faith, conviction, and love, and that’s what it takes to be a saint. This is so rare, especially today, to see someone who exposes their heart – their very selves – to those around them.
This is your call to action, your call to take courage, your call to be yourself. This is your call to be a fool for Christ!