Protecting What Matters

“Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”  Matthew 7:6
11 4 15 018 with word overlay     My son Zack really struggled this year choosing a Halloween costume.  In previous years, he readily chose the passion of the moment.  However, being in Middle School now, he was questioning what costumes would be well received, and what costumes would be ridiculed.  Ultimately, he decided on Percy Jackson from the book series he has been devouring lately.
     Last Friday, when he was allowed to wear a costume to school, he put on the Percy Jackson “Camp Half Blood” shirt, the necklace I made him with beads specific to the storyline, jeans and a hoodie.  Yet he left for the bus with the hoodie zipped up to the top, covering the shirt and necklace.
     When he got home from school, I asked him how his day was.  He looked down at the floor and admitted he never unzipped his sweatshirt, keeping his costume concealed the entire day.  However, that Saturday, when he was allowed to wear a costume to his karate dojo, the shirt and necklace were donned with excitement, revealed and displayed for all to see.
     Zack isn’t great at putting his emotions into words.  But I know him well enough to know that the costume issue was about fitting in, avoiding ridicule, and protecting what matters to him.  He loves the Percy Jackson novels.  He has chewed through book after book like candy.  It’s all he and Mason have talked about for months, endlessly.
     He knew there was a chance that the Middle School crowd would make fun of him for that.  So he hedged his bet by zipping up his sweatshirt.  At school, he felt things out and his instinct told him not to unzip it.
     Conversely, he’s good friends with all the kids at the dojo, and they’re all like-minded.  He knew for certain his costume would be accepted and admired there.  He didn’t even want a sweatshirt, zipped or unzipped, even though it was cold.
     Some moms would argue that it’s our job to build our kids up to a place of such self-confidence that other’s opinions don’t matter.  I used to think that was possible, and I was striving for that.  But this incident has me seeing things differently. 

     If you’re reading this blog, it’s obvious that my faith matters to me.  It always has.  But I haven’t always been so forthcoming about it.  In truth, there have been times I have downright hidden it for fear of ridicule.  People can be mean, opinionated, and incredibly judgmental when it comes to faith and religion.
     In the times when I hid my faith, kept quiet when people were bashing the Church, I felt cowardly and weak.  I felt as if I were betraying God, living as a fair weather believer, only revealing my beliefs when it was safe and accepted.  I’d look at the martyrs who died just for admitting they were Christians, and I’d feel terrible about myself in comparison.  If they were willing to give up their lives, shouldn’t I be willing to speak up to defend my faith?
     There’s no doubt that I do have to be more courageous when it comes to speaking up.  But I’ve also come to realize that it’s okay to protect what matters to me.  When someone is ranting and raving about some negative experience they had with the Church, they’re clearly not in a place to be open minded.  My stepping up and trying to protect the Church from someone who is hell bent on trashing God, faith and religion is like giving dogs something that is sacred, throwing pearls to pigs.  There’s just no upside to it. The hot head is not going to see my side, honor my feelings, and suddenly start believing in God or respecting the Church.  Instead, the hot head is going to crush underfoot what is near and dear to me, stomping it into the mud.  Why would I want to subject myself and my faith to that?
     I believe it’s God’s grace that transforms the heart of a hot head, not me.  I’ve already admitted that I’m not well spoken in the moment.  Furthermore, my faith is emotion based, not fact based.  So when I’m up against a good debater, I’m going to lose every time.  Then I feel like I do my faith an injustice.  The hot head feels vindicated and victorious.  I feel worse than ever.
     I’ve concluded that for me, I need to live my life so my actions proclaim my faith.  If I can focus on making and living out right choices in my life, those choices will speak far louder than any words I could ever say.
     I can be a conduit for God, for sure.  If I align myself so much with His teachings, His light will shine out of me and attract others to Him.  If I fill up so much with His grace, it will spill out and onto the hot heads of this world, maybe cooling them off, softening their hearts.  But I have to remember that God is the Source of grace that does this important transforming work, not me.
     Although I wish Zack could wear whatever Halloween costume he wants to Middle School, I will support however he wants to play things from now on.  I am his mom.  And like a mama bear that will do whatever it takes to protect her cubs, I will also do whatever it takes to protect what matters to Zack.  I am just so grateful that he’s found a great circle of friends, and a karate dojo, where he can be himself, with complete acceptance and no fear of ridicule.
     I too have found a similar circle and community where I can openly show my faith whenever, however.  But out in the larger world, when I sense cruelty in someone, I will be holding my faith near and dear, protecting it like I would Zack.
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8 thoughts on “Protecting What Matters

  1. I, too am cowardly, Claire, when it comes to refuting a tirade about the church and declaring my faith. This post hit so close to home. Maybe when I am out in public and using my rosary, I won’t be struggling so to hide it. Such a simple thing, I needn’t flaunt it, but neither do I need to hide it. As always., you give me so much to think about! Love you xoxo

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  2. I love that you used the word “tirade.” It’s the people who go on a “tirade” that really aren’t open to why we believe what we do. But maybe when you are saying your rosary, you can pray that those who do go on tirades soften a bit, become more open minded, or at least don’t slander what matters to us. Love you too Mom!

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  3. I see that, especially on the new,s people who talk over someone and do not let them finish that they are not opened minded and have pretty much made up their mind on something. I am guilty as well. You gave me something to think about again. Thanks Claire. You have a great way of looking at things.

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  4. I share your thoughts exactly! It’s actually kind of senseless wasting your time trying to debate and convince a close-minded person of anything, even the truth. Only someone who is OPEN to hearing and respecting another person’s viewpoint is capable of understanding or accepting it.
    Preaching your faith through the way you live your life can be more powerful and lead to more conversions than any debate with words. There is no arguing against a life clearly led by the Holy Spirit.
    Way to go, Claire!

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