Does Being True To Yourself Mean You Must Change Who You Are To Accommodate Others?
As the world becomes more dysfunctional, it becomes more intolerant. It doesn’t seek acceptance but rather, seeks conformity. This begs the question. Does being true to yourself mean that you must change your beliefs in order to accommodate someone else’s? At what point does being courteous and compassionate require that you must change your belief system to please others ? Why must it require that you deny who you are?
This happened to me. It is something I will never forget. At the time when this situation occurred, I was disturbed by the conversation. I felt chastised for being a practicing Catholic. The experience was not only inappropriate but was discriminatory.
One day, while at work, I was walking back towards my office to find a few people chatting in the hallway. Everyone said hello to me as I proceeded to head back towards my office. One person cornered me asked me how my weekend was. I assumed it was the casual small talk and simply responded that it was pleasant.
She then said something quite unexpected and in a subtle but interrogating fashion, asked, “you post a LOT about Mary!”
At first, I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I hadn’t been very active on social media and didn’t recall posting anything about celebrities. I certainly don’t post about people I know unless it pertains to an issue I am advocating for. So, I looked at her blankly and said, “Mary?”
She replied, “the mother of Jesus.”
This caught me completely off-guard. In a split second, my mind raced. Should I consider being politically correct and apologize even though I did nothing wrong? Should I ask what the problem was with what was posted? Without blinking, I shrugged my shoulders and blurted out with a smile, “the cat’s out of the bag. I am Catholic. Anyone who knows me well, knows this!”
It is an interesting situation. Some people might have apologized or made some excuse. Why should I? I did nothing wrong. Then I pondered. Is my faith a mere activity that I indulge in to give myself a quick pick-me-up? Or is it a part of my life that I desperately try to live and breathe? I am not about to apologize and never will. If anything, this person was wrong to single me out in front of everyone. She was wrong to challenge me about my faith. I should never be judged at work based upon my personal beliefs but rather upon my abilities. That is the sad reality of the world we live in.
People are always talking about being true to yourself. Well, what about being true to your faith? Is it just reserved for some belief systems and not for others? Am I supposed to conform to how other people want me to think because it makes them feel comfortable? I think not. As Mother Angelica used to say, “life is short, death is eternal!”
Let’s Get Personal About Mary, Shall We?
So, what is the big deal about the Blessed Virgin Mary? Why do I post about her so much? Why do people feel so compelled as to mock the Catholic faith or bully the faithful instead of simply asking about why she matters so much?
I will provide the abridged version. I actually give talks about this subject and have helped many people cope with grief through my journey.
It began when my mother died. I was 18 years old. When you lose a parent as a young person, the pain is overwhelming. It is indescribable. Nothing can possibly prepare you for such grief. People react very differently when they lose someone they love, especially a parent. Not everyone has a great relationship with their parents. I had great parents. I especially loved my mother who meant the world to me. I felt like freezing cold water was splashed on my face and I now saw the world to be a very ugly, cruel place. I didn’t understand a lot of things and so desperately felt I was missing a guide to help me navigate these murky waters.
As time passed, I didn’t want to celebrate holidays, avoided shopping because of all of the Hallmark holidays which painfully and reliably reminded me of loss, would drop friends in an instance when I saw them mouthing off to their parents and the list goes on. I couldn’t understand how someone my own age could be so rotten to his or her mother. I couldn’t bear to be around it. So, I kept my distance.
I knew that there were many saints who were close to the Blessed Virgin Mary but I just didn’t get it. I knew in my heart she was special but there was something I needed to understand that my heart had allowed me to understand.
After two and a half decades, it took a very devout priest, my friend, Father Charles, a true Son Of God, to bring me back to a faith that I had pretty much abandoned. This priest wisely introduced me to St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Jesus Through Mary. Little did I know that this was the end of my grief and the beginning of my healing. I learned so much about the love Jesus had for His mother as well as her love for Him. It not only taught me so much about the Catholic faith but helped me to grow stronger in it.
An unexpected thing occurred during this whole journey. My broken heart, my ever-consuming brokenness that had pained me in such an agonizing way for the last two and a half decades, was healed. Go figure! How come no one talks about this? How come no one told me that if I grew close to Jesus by getting to know His mother that my grief would be replaced with peace? It was surreal. The truth is when are hearts are truly open, that is when we receive the grace to understand the wisdom that comes with it.
Does this mean that I no longer love my mother, have forgotten about her or that she doesn’t matter? She matters very much. In fact, this whole experience filled my heart with joy to know that my mother is in Heaven with everyone, especially Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is now with my dad and all of my deceased family members. That is peace that no one can give you but Jesus.
Being True To Yourself
For the person that cornered me that day, I am grateful. I was unexpectedly challenged in the most peculiar way about my faith and I passed “the test.” I did not deny my faith. That is a big issue for Catholics. We all pray we will stay true to Jesus when pressed.
The reality is that I am not about to hide my Catholic faith nor will I pretend to be something that I am not. In fact, I do write a lot about the Catholic faith. It is my favorite subject to talk about. I give talks about it, and mostly communicate with the Catholic community which is huge. Let’s face it, it is the largest group of believers on the planet and I happen to know a lot of lay people as well as religious. I know more Catholics than non-Catholics all over the world.
I would also like to point out that I do have many friends that have different belief systems. I think it is great to differ from one and other. My friends accept me as I am and I accept them as they are. That is one of the greatest things about differences. It is how we learn things and are able to grow.
Faith is personal. It also helps you to be true to who you are. For me to exclude such a large group of people that are part of my existence just to please others is not something I will do nor consider. These are people I worship with. I exchange information with my Catholic network of friends. I talk about shopping experiences with them. I do business with them. The interesting thing is that it wasn’t on purpose that the people I primarily interact with are Catholic but it is how my life is.
This vast network of Catholics includes: my hair dresser, car dealer, nail salon, personal trainer, garden center, bakery, plumber, carpenter, doctors, dentist, etc. are Catholic. I think it is great. Are we perfect people? No. No one is perfect but I know we do try. The bottom line for me is that the suggestion to conform to the masses by denying my faith is not going to serve my faith, my needs nor allow me to be “true to myself.”
Quotes About Being True To Yourself To Reflect Upon
I hope these quotes help you to remind you just how important it is for you to be who you are and also accept others for who they are.
- “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” – Michel de Montaigne
- “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
- “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” – John Mason
- “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” – Brene Brown
- “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – Carl Jung
- “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin
- “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland
- “The more you know yourself, the less judgmental you become.” – Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel
- “Be yourself, but always your better self.” – Karl G. Maeser.
If you enjoyed this article, please read How To Cope With Loss Over 50