PRIDE

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  After reading a few posts and hearing a few unkind comments this month I'm not angry, but I'm a little fired up and ready to get really, really real.  You won't see me attacking others views on their facebook pages, or looking to get into public battles, but sometimes I need to get some thoughts and words out of my head and my body so they don't eat me up.

I don't know what it means to you, but where I come from, pride is a dirty word.  Growing up in the Bible belt we were taught that pride is a sin.  We are taught to be humble.  Now I'm not knocking humility, but let's compare the words:

Pride: A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

Humility: A modest or low view of one's own importance.

Take from that what you will, but on a surface level that humility bullshit sounds pretty depressing and damaging to me.  I know that's not the point, no one tries to teach their children to think they aren't important(hopefully), but in some branches of the Christian church, they are sending some pretty mixed messages that are a little too complex, in my opinion, for a child to decipher(til they are around 23 give or take).

I have a distinct memory of being very young, maybe 5 or so, and being in some type of local church program, probably Awana(If you don't know what Awana is, lucky you) and starting to memorize Bible verses to gain literal plastic jewels in our literal tiny plastic crowns.  We learned verses in order of the alphabet.  I still remember "A" was for "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23.  So someone thought it was a good idea that the very first thing a child should learn is that deep down, at our core, we are all inherently bad and do not deserve love. 

Of course the rest of the message is supposed to be, "but because of Jesus we get to be loved!  There is grace and mercy and how lucky are we!?!"  But I honestly can't recall memorizing any verses about that part.  This confusing message of the general dirtiness of my very nature was only perpetuated as I got older and was told that God made me perfectly, BUUUUT I'd be punished if I walked into church in a sleeveless shirt or shorts above my knees because even my 11 year old body was an evil thing that would cause male classmates to sin.  Or at 16 when I was publicly reprimanded when I started having a little too much fun and (VERY awkwardly) danced closer than an arms length from a classmate at a school dance.  Eventually shame turns to guilt, guilt turns to fear, and fear to depression that some of us spend many years crawling out of.

Now, there are many types of people, and many types of Christians.  I have experienced all different types and definitely don't lump them all together.  This was just one part of my experience.  I'm a heterosexual female myself, but as I see the things that some well-meaning people are saying during Pride month, I can't help but relate them back to some of the themes of love, mercy and forgiveness in the midst of judgement in my own life.  I in no way want to say that my struggle was anywhere near that of LGBTQ kids who grew up in my same community, these are just my own thoughts that needed sharing.

There are some Christians that say being gay is wrong and that they don't want anything to do with those types of people.  There are others that claim to practice more tolerance, "hate the sin, not the sinner" and show love, mercy and forgiveness by trying to help "fix" or "convert" these sinners.  There are others who'd even say that being gay is a sin, but we are ALL sinners and all welcome in the church. To set the record straight, I don't believe being gay is a sin.  I'm not sure that I believe in the concept of sin at all.  I do believe in right and wrong and that I have the emotional intelligence to tell the difference regardless of religion.

The thought that we are all bad so we are all even might sound nice and oh so tolerant to you, but this still goes back to a principle that I'm just not willing to accept any longer. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  We are all bad at our core and undeserving of love, mercy and forgiveness.

I now believe the opposite. That at our core, humans are good and beautiful and we need to practice loving ourselves and others without stigma. Without a pat on the back for loving someone who you believe doesn't deserve it. We need to practice taking pride in ourselves.  Pride in our accomplishments, our bodies, our good qualities, our intelligence, our abilities to make our own choices, and our beautiful uniqueness. The point of pride(at least as I see it) is that people are trying to come to a place where they can let go of years of learned shame and truly practice love for themselves.  To say that you have mercy and forgiveness for someone and the lifestyle that brings them happiness despite their "sins", is just so freaking condescending and insulting.  Sorry if it sounds harsh, but no one needs your mercy, forgiveness, grace, acceptance, tolerance, or any other popular words for being the beautiful, perfect and unique human they were born to be.

Love you all!

-Caitlin