Conformity. It is a Sunday morning. The only day of the week I sleep in. I wake up to the soft, tiny kiss of my youngest. I don’t wake, instead, I choose to lay with my eyes closed and let the soft, unexpected kiss sink deep into my heart. What could be a better way to wake? I can’t think of one.
Conformity has been on my mind. It has been stirring and churning in my head.
Way before this beautiful being was mine, way before any of them were mine, I was butting up against the confines of conformity in my life. Specifically, I remember the time when we decided to leave the Catholic church.
Having been raised in the church and my husband having attended Catholic education until college, it was difficult to make the decision. The year was 2002 and we were married in the church where his father was an acolyte. You can also cloak conformity as a tradition. The desire to honor our elders or those rituals that have affected our upbringing. So, despite the Jesuit Priest explaining to me that he should walk in last as he was the most important part of the ceremony. Despite hearing that we do not tithe enough, we still conformed and walked through it.
It was not too long after our marriage that sexual abuse charges started being levied across parishes in the US. We lived in Long Island at the time and my morning commute included the news. This is when the nut really cracked.
For years I listen to things like, “it doesn’t matter their stance on birth control, I don’t really listen to that part.”
“Ya, I’m not really in favor of the church’s view on women in religion, but I grew up in this church, it is all I know.”
It seems as though people around me are showing up to do what they had always done because that is what they know. The tradition and ceremony are safety and peace to them. Despite the growing evidence of the tens of thousands of children that had been violated.
When we found we were pregnant with our first child it was not enough to just show up and disagree quietly with everything we did not believe in. We made the choice that we could not, no would not, bring our child into a hypocritical doctrine. We sought other avenues and for a time they were enough. Today we are less drawn towards organized religion and more invested in teaching our children about spirituality and the interconnectedness of ourselves, our community, or earth and humanity.
All of this was many years prior to our daughter sharing her truth with us. Society says that conformity is the reason we are bad parents. It says we are sending our child into the world to be bullied and embarrassed. It says that our child is going against God’s word. Conformity says, “what about the children?” Conformity cloaks itself as having our child’s best interest at heart, saving her if you will. Those same people who condone my parenting choices, who are so concerned for my child’s welfare, turn a blind eye when their fellow parishioners are molested or when their tithing dollars are paying for lawsuits and atonement.
Each of us has the opportunity to conform or go against the grain. In many aspects of my life, I conform because there is a benefit. I pay my taxes, I don’t park in handicapped parking spots, my children go to school 180 days each year and I try to drive the speed limit (ha, sometimes). But forcing my child to present other than her authentic self is not an option. The cost is too high.
In my life I choose love. I choose to celebrate each of my children for who they tell me they are. We choose kindness and compassion. We also choose to stand together and recognize that sometimes choosing authenticity requires resolute courage. It is not the easy path, conformity is the easy path. To float with the tide instead of against it, is the easy road. But unabashed truth brings about great honor. Honor not to those with the power of the pulpit or power over. No, such bravery comes with honor to yourself. And in the end, you know you are doing what is right with one small kiss, on a Sunday morning. Drink it in.
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