Labels

After the two and a half required months I spent getting over Jason and finally closing that chapter, I started going out with a guy I’ve know for quite some time now. He was the guy I was sort of seeing before I met Jason, and someone who I seem to fall back to now and then over the years. We haven’t ever really had a long term relationship, you see, he likes to bail and this time it was no different. But that’s not the story of this post, I’ll get into that another time.

What I want to share is a conversation we had a few weeks back about religion and religious beliefs. I really don’t know how we got into this conversation. I had just gotten back from Venezuela and was heading to Chicago for the weekend the next day, we hadn’t seen each other in some time and were excited to be able to spend some time together, as brief as it was. So, how we got into such a deep conversation, which actually lasted a good hour or more, is a mystery to me.

Anyhow, I think I’ve shared here my views on religion, my beliefs, my struggles, and my reluctance, but often times need, to define myself religiously. I am a very spiritual person. I live my spirituality and my spiritual beliefs daily, but religious? Not so much. The thing is, if you ask me what my religious background is, I’ll say I’m Catholic, and to some extent I am. I’ve been baptized, I’ve done the first communion, I’ve been confirmed, I have confessed my sins (I think I’ve only done this twice though) and have taken communion. I go to church whenever I feel the urge and pray occasionally.

If you look up the definition of a Catholic, these sacraments and going through them would be part of it, but there are some fundamental beliefs about God and how “he” works, that I don’t share. There are some other fundamental beliefs about heaven and hell, good and evil, I don’t commune with either. Then there is the issue of other non-Christian beliefs I hold, which definitely are not part of Catholicism.

So, do I explain all these things to someone who asks me about my religious background? No, not really. I just say I’m Catholic and leave it at that. They can imagine whatever they want from that piece of information. So going back to my conversation with, lets just call him “this guy” (he’s staying anonymous as per his request), what happened was he started judging me for not accurately defining myself religiously, for not looking for a more according label, one which better portrays my beliefs, and berated me for continuing to call myself Catholic, when in his view, I clearly am not.

You see “this guy” thinks I need to define myself appropriately. If I am a Catholic I should do what Catholics do, and if I don’t abide by that and dare to believe something different, then I just shouldn’t even say I’m Christian, because apparently that’s some sort of blasphemy. Talk about religious strictness, huh? And this is coming from “this guy”, who if you knew, would totally understand my shock.

I found this funny, in the sarcastic sense, because I actually could have been very pissed about this little encounter, fortunately I was too tired to get into it. Because, you see, one of the “issues” Jason had with me was that I was too religious/spiritual for him. Remember the whole “I don’t want a big Catholic wedding!” bit? Yeah, I do too. So when this whole judging me because apparently I was mis-defining myself, and apparently I am too smart to do such nonsense, it was not lost on me how for one guy saying I was Catholic was too religious and for the other, I was just not religious enough to go by that label. The only thought I got at the time was “there is no winning here, no middle ground” and I smiled, because it just seemed a little serendipitous to me that this “issue” would come up again.

I don’t like defining myself, I never have. The times I do so is mainly for other people’s benefit. When people need to know, where I come from, what I do, where I’ve been, what I believe in and what I like, they are trying to figure me out. I understand this. But I really dislike labels. I dislike to be put into a little category box and be left there. People change, I change. Yes, there are bottom lines to all of us, tendencies and core aspects of our personalities that tend to surface when things call for them. But we change, constantly, all of us do. What we like and believe in today, might not be the same tomorrow.

I don’t want to define myself and limit myself to whatever label I decide on today, because tomorrow it just might not fit and by doing so I might not give myself the opportunity to explore beyond the chosen label. So why should I let others do this? Just because by doing so it’s easy for them to “get” me? I guess. That’s why I tell people I’m Catholic and let them make whatever they want out of that.

I know what I am and what works for me, if others want to know, then I suggest they take the time to find out. “This guy” surely hasn’t ever taken the time, and sitting there telling I’m smarter than that, was judgmental, condescending and uncalled for. I don’t need to be judged by anyone or made to feel bad because of what I have chosen to believe or what I call myself and why. Both “this guy” and Jason did so at some point and I sort of resent them for that. I feel that once you have taken the time to know someone you can begin to understand who they are and what and why they believe what they do, to judge before hand with very little information is wrong. To try and label someone just to appease your need to box people in is unfair. I try not to do this to others, although I know I sometimes fail. My question now is, why does it keep coming up towards me? Why do people have the need to define and label me and then have issues with the labels I have chosen for myself? Thoughts?

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2 responses to “Labels

  1. I do NOT define my spirituality for anyone anymore. It is intensely personal – my relationship with this God of mine. SOmeone asked me the other day if I was a Christian. And for the first time in my life, I said, "Maybe. But I think my God is bigger than that label." And it felt like the most freeing thing in the world to say. It was amazing.

  2. You know, I might just have to try that "maybe" as an answer. I kinda like it 🙂

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