There will never be a shortage of people to disapprove of you. If I’m right about this, it moves us towards facing some important stuff. It changes how we bend and shift to outside opinion, it changes how we respond to people and it affects the kind of people we will be. The disapproval of others will either beat you down, or it will move you from life which is a ‘survival dance’ – doing what you think you must to get by – to your ‘sacred dance’ – which is what and who God created you for.
I believe disapproval is key in this life shift because we all inevitably spend the first half of our life trying to see where our life fits in the grand scheme of things. We build our lives, personalities, and preferences often on things which win us the approval of others and the acceptance of others rather than the thing that is ultimately important.
When I was younger, I remember trying very hard to listen to Radio 1 and play/attend football matches, go to discos, hang out with the boys and all the rest when what I really wanted to to was go to the beach, listen to Debussy and read a book on my own.
The fitting in attempts didn’t stop there: as a ‘Christian’, in young adult life, I did the whole religious conformity thing and believed 10 impossible things before breakfast each day. Prayed in tongues, read the bible, concentrated on other people’s sin instead of mine, kept God in his box, didn’t smoke, drink, take drugs or watch counterfeit movies. More than that, I continually bent over backwards to be what others expected me to be…and that was the breaking point.
I’m done with most of that now, to be honest, both the silly conformity and the religious conformity. You see, whether I’m leftist or right wing, heretical or orthodox, pro or anti, liberal or conservative, black or white, up or down, there will be someone to disapprove. Running after other people’s approval will get you nowhere really.
When we are rooted in the Mystery of faith, becoming more alive to the wonder and fragility of live, moved and inspired by Love, our life takes a new perspective. If the thing we try to do in each situation is the most loving thing, then we will be on a path that will win. Love, though, is often controversial.
It was Love who offered instant forgiveness and heaven to a crook on a cross in his last seconds of life and told the religious people that tax collectors and prostitutes were getting into heaven before them. It was Love who allowed a prostitute to bathe his feet with tears and wipe them with her hair. It was Love who spat in a blind mans eyes to make him see. It was Love that called the whitewashed tombs a brood of vipers. It was Love that stood silent before a mock civic court and took the beating. It was Love who got lost as a child and told his parents he had to be about his Father’s business. It was Love that inspired the tax man to give bonus rebates. It was Love that shifted the definition of family from blood to Blood. It was Love who told the story of the unlikely helper in the Good Samaritan story. It was Love who walked the planet claiming to be God incarnate. It was Love who considered the lilies and the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the seeds, the fig trees, the vine, the branch, the sheep and the shepherd, the little children and said ‘this is how you learn about life.’ It is Love who inspires us to move beyond our Survival Dance and helps us live our Sacred Dance. It is Love to introduces us to suffering, death, but crowns the whole thing with Resurrection life and the New Creation Kingdom.
The disapproval will always be there. But Love anyway.