What if our courage to irritate some was a measure of having lived authentically?
What fear keeps me from living authentically out loud?
Most of us don’t set out to intentionally irritate others. Just the opposite, we generally find ourselves living safely within the conventional norms of some group from whom we want acceptance. Some of us are ‘people pleasers’ and even equate ‘being nice’ – not-offending anyone – with being spiritual or ‘Christ-like.’
I find 80 year-old Vladika Lazar Puhalo’s reflection insightful:
“At a meeting with some nurses and volunteers in Hospice services, we discussed the conversations with patients. … One of the nurses brought up a poll that had been taken in hospice. Patients were asked, as they approached the end of life, what they most regretted about their lives. By far the most frequent answer was, ‘not having had the courage to be myself.’
……It can be a rather sad thought, particularly when it is social conventions that have kept so many from a more complete life. … As my own life draws to a close, … It has fallen to me to wonder if I myself have had the courage to be myself. Perhaps the fact that a sizeable number of people have been quite irritated with me gives me some comfort in the thought that they would not have been so irritated had I not insisted on being myself.” – adapted
Then there is Jesus’ wise advice:
“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular” – Luke 6:26 MESSAGE
Simply being offensive to be noticed or valued as a rebel is not the point. But there are questions to ponder:
- What values am I unwilling to compromise even if they irritate others?
- What fear keeps me from living authentically out loud?