I don’t have to justify myself

Bigger Picture MomentIt started when I wrote this post on why people shouldn’t have to justify themselves to me. Then I read this amazing article written by a woman who has a child with Downs syndrome, in it she talks about how people ask her if she ever got the pre-natal test that would have informed her of her baby’s condition, and she asks why she has to justify his existence.

It got me thinking, how often have I felt the need to justify my own children’s existence, when people ask if one of my closely spaced kids was a “mistake”. No one should ever have to justify their child’s existence.

And that led to me thinking about just how often I attempt to justify my thoughts, my opinions, my experiences, myself, to others.

When I first started branching out of the fundamentalist mindset, I would try to excuse any of the knowledge I was gaining of the outside world. I would mention something I saw on “The View” and then follow it up with a “not that I ever watch that show, it just happened to be on one day after the news.” Or a song would come on in a store and I would let it slip out that I loved it! And then try to explain that I “hardly ever listen to the radio” Heaven forbid someone got the wrong impression about how worldly I was.

As I’ve grown, I thought that I’d left the excuses behind. I no longer try to justify the way I dress, what I read, watch or listen too. But I find myself still trying to get people to accept me in other ways.

I’ve been struggling in my faith. I’ve spent time wondering whether to believe in God at all. The Catholic Church has begun to draw me back to the faith, and as I’ve started to see a glimpse of God again in the mass, I’ve tried to justify it to those who would rather I not be a Christian at all, than make the choice to be Catholic.

As I’ve changed the way I parent, I’ve struggled with so much insecurity about how people will judge my children’s behavior. At first I told people that I was just “taking a break” from spanking, that I would probably go back to it eventually. When I realized that I wasn’t going to start spanking again, I felt that I needed to convince the naysayers that I was making the right decision!
I’ve struggled with depression on and off for years. I’ve always tried to explain it away, attribute it to something superficial. Telling others and myself, “I’m just having a bad week (or month)”. I didn’t want to acknowledge the depression that keeps re-surfacing in my life, because I have an amazing husband and wonderful children, so I don’t have a “good enough” reason to be depressed, right?

Why do I get trapped in the endless circle of trying to justify who I am? If I can abandon perfectionism, and be OK with the real me, then why do I feel the need to explain to anyone else?

My Bigger Picture Moment? I don’t have to justify myself.

Bigger Picture Moments is where we step back and take in life. This week it’s being hosted by Sarah at This Heavenly Life. Hop over to her blog to read more about the Bigger Picture, and maybe share your own moment.

Re-Post: Lies we tell ourselves about abuse
What I Understand
Re-post: I am Not My Parents
Children of an Atheist talk about God
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03683633347046699684 Debbie

    I just found your blog so forgive me if I am saying some things that you have already said. I was raised anti-Catholic. Anything else was fine. I converted to Catholicism in 2000. The more I studied religion, the more the Catholic church made sense. Purgatory was a struggle for me until I had a stillborn baby. God gives everyone a choice to choose Him or not. My baby had to have been given that choice or he would not be human. I think it is an easy choice when you are an infant and all you see is God's greatness. But, we still get to choose. That is what makes us human. Mary was a struggle for me as well. If you believe in the trinity though, it is easy. Mary is the mother of God. Incarnate God. She had to be perfect. She had to not have original sin or it would have passed on to the Incarnate God because although the Church did not know at the time, a woman's eggs are formed when she is conceived. Amazing how that works out as scientific discoveries are made.

    Most Catholics struggle with these things. Many Catholics don't struggle, they just ignore the Church's teachings. I don't have all the answers and some of the answers I have are wrong. I just know that man is fallen, God's mercy is beyond our understanding, and Bible believing people need to be asked where their bible came from. Who assembled the cannon of the bible, who decided what belonged in the bible and how.

    Most protestants do not know what they are protesting anymore or why. It usually boils down to having a problem with authority.

    Just my humble opinion. May God have mercy on me if I have led anyone astray with my comments.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08863579550620358675 Jill

    What freedom we find when we let go of the pressure to justify what we do/who we are. Thanks for this reminder!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Debbie- I've had alot of the same questions, and alot of the same discoveries. The Catholic Church has such richness. I've been blogging about alot of my questions and discoveries. And I agree, most protestants do not relaly understand the Catholic Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08838590548747956315 Hyacynth

    I love this post. Because, you know what, we don't have to justify ourselves to anyone! We have the freedom in Christ to make our decisions and act on what's been placed heavy on our hearts.
    I do this — explain away sometimes. But I need to really truly remember that I live for an audience of One. And I answer to that same Audience.
    Wonderful post!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01659200420621854710 Maggie

    Praying that you find peace and comfort in your faith life.

  • http://myfluffybunnies.wordpress.com Stacia

    Why is it so hard to be ourselves, and to be comfortable with who we are (and are not)? It requires so much strength, and I barely have enough of that to raise my family, let alone any reserves for myself! Even still, I'm sending you some so you can keep fighting the tough fights!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14600901961685207952 Dakotapam

    I love this! I see myself making many of those same justifications. I'm glad I don't really have to!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07604810312185816792 Corinne

    There is so much freedom in giving up the justifications.
    It's so good.

  • Anonymous

    Right on! Especially about the depression bit. I was alway adding guilt on top of my depression because a good Christian doesn't get depressed and heaven forbid, think about taking medications for it. Why is it so hard to accept that I have depression and God accepts me regardless?
    Leigh Ann

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14586469381231517883 This Heavenly Life

    I find myself making justifications all the time, and it's just second nature. But I hope…I hope I'm becoming more comfortable with my own decisions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11326484192966920116 Debbie

    This is an excellent post. How often have I felt like I had to justify my being a SAHM and housewife because someone treated that as a second class position.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01184364975188612954 Laanykidsmom

    I think it is because of feelings on inadequacy and needing to justify that my faith has been strengthened. I know I am not perfect, but I also know He loves me anyway.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Leigh Ann- I know, and counseling is just as bad because it's to "wordly".

    Laanykidsmom- That is interesting. I just have such a hard time believing that God loves me.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, thank you for this blog. I didn't grow up with any religion. I tried them all out as I grew into an adult. I was open to all and none all at the same time. I exposed myself to JW, Catholism, Mormon, Sufi, Taoism, Protestant, Buddhism, Goddess worship, Shamanism and they are all full of messages of love. They all seem to offer something to help us feel whole, at one with life, connected to everything, at peace with our being here, compassionate toward our shortcomings-which are questionable, some say we are perfect, some say we are imperfect and so in turn justify why we need God to guide us. How do we know God and what person, words, religion, beliefs, philosophies, rituals can help us with this? How do we know what is right? Really?
    We don't know until we live it. And to live it means taking a risk, being vulnerable, making mistakes, taking wrong turns and we all are on this journey. We live in times now where we have access to everything and yet we are still feel lost and that we don't deserve to be.
    I have suffered greatly with this and I suffer from depression on and off. I feel so much guilt over this….shame about it. Deep shame.
    It is so intense for me at times and other times I am so busy with life I am not in touch with it. I broke up with a man recently who I thought was the love of my life. I recently quit my job. I have been divorced twice. I have nothing to show that I am successful. No bank account, no home, no assets. None if this would make a difference my minister tells me. My minister is not affiliated with any religion. He has a center and we are all trying to create a place to share God and have everyone feel loved and accepted for who they are right now.
    He conducts Free the Heart workshops and I have participated. There is so much to them but the main thing is that we can show all our humaness there and we are loved and welcomed to the world. We are not asked to accept any other being or God as our Father/Saviour. We are all just acknowledging that there is the prescence of it and that together it is present and healing. I still after doing it twice feel shame and guilt and the depression sets in. My minister says healing, God or living with spirit, is not an event, it is a process. We must practice every day and set aside time every day, twice a day is best. What he has asked me to do is one way, if going to church and praying to Mother Mary or Jesus or meditating on a guru helps I don't think it matters. Science has proved that praying and meditation changes the brain and therefore our well being and they can locate the God center of the brain that lights up when one is in a peaceful state or with God. It doesn't discriminate between a religion. This is the good news. But it does respond if we practice our faith. The brain does alter if we are depressed if we tell ourselves we are loved. By whom, who that lover is does not matter. If we accept ourselves or we open and surrender to others whose words are accepting, compassionate, it makes no difference. But, we must make a practice. I neglect to do this and yes it effects me. I am distracted by everything on the outside. I have become to fear being inside with myself, God, Spirit. I spin thoughts around, the monkey mind is not at peace and everything oppresses me and I feel guilt and judge myself constantly. It is stronger for those who like me have not been accepted by family, by parents, by a teacher, minister or husband. It is very strong if there has been physical abuse, neglect and abandonment. We all have had this in our lives at some point, some more than others.
    But, my minister said, can you show me your depression, can you show me your pain, what does it look like on the outside world, where is it?
    It was hard to hear all his questions. He then told me that each time I speak I justify my existence. He asked why I feel the need to justify myself. I was silent.

  • Anonymous

    I didn't know I was doing this. I could see it, like a flash of my whole life before me I was feeling close to death and yet there was freedom in his question. This was yesterday, I am in a daise today. I am still depressed and I have before me life that I can step into and live making no excuse, no explanations for living it or there is hell….depression is hell. It is stuck and thinking you will never get out, the Chilean minors got out and I wanted that too!
    They said there were 34 in the mine, 33 miners and God. I don't have God in here with me. And I have to invite Him, Spirit, LIfe, Jesus whatever word we ascribe, I have to invite it in and acknowledge it everyday. I haven't been doing this. I am afraid I won't do it, I find ways to distract myself every day. The deep sorrow I feel is so intense and instead I need elation, joy and celebration of life and spirit.
    My minister says that I am strong because I am facing the sorrow head on now. It takes courage to allow oneself to just be in hell, doubt or lost and face it and accept and love yourself even though you are in sin-which means missing the target. I haven't been loving myself though! My minister says but today you start and the key is to accept what i see in the mirror today. And I look awful! Today I love and accept myself because I am a divine expression of God's Holy Love.
    Love and Peace to all that come here broken as I am. We are not alone in our suffering. May joy be restored to you, love and God be with you always.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Anonymous- Thanks for your thoughts. I've also wrestled with pushing down my depression, it has been so helpful for me to face my issues head on. Good for you for having the courage to do the same!