Celebration Beyond Tolerance
I work with amazing humans who are growing and changing due to a faith transition or spiritual awakening. Many of them make hard, brave, and value-based decisions to make choices that are right for them and their families. These informed and integrated choices can, at times, leave them sitting in tension with their friends and family. When we're making brave and different choices from those around us, most of us want to be seen, celebrated and honored for the path we're taking. Often, those I work with feel tolerated, pitied and deeply misunderstood. Their loved ones reach out and want to "save" them rather than partner with them - it can feel hurtful for everyone involved.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you're someone who is in the midst of a faith transition and receiving push back, I want to remind you that the best your friends and family might be able to do is respect you. Respect doesn't feel like being honored necessarily, but it is a sincere step in the right direction. Highlight when you feel respected, it can support the behavior. You can also grieve that respect often feels flat and often not like enough - that's real and hard. You can continue to model love, respect, and interest in what brings them joy. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you love your religious identity and your faith tradition, consider how you can demonstrate love beyond quiet respect. Lean in. Can you join them in celebrating the choices that are right for them? Can you refrain from language that includes "I STILL love you even though you've left the church" and instead say something like, "I love you, our differences don't define my love, I want to celebrate the choices you are making that are right for you. Can you help me know how to honor and celebrate you in this big moment of your life?"⠀⠀⠀⠀
A part of emotional and spiritual maturity includes going beyond respect and stepping into love, support, and celebration of the choices that are different than our own that bring others happiness, wellness, and joy. Celebration beyond tolerance asks us to surrender the story we want for someone else, and step into the story that is right for them. It’s a two way street!
Sara Hughes-Zabawa, LCSW Sara works from a holistic approach, focusing on issues such as depression, anxiety, grief, chronic pain, disordered eating, faith transitions, stress management and serving the LGBTQ+ community. She offers coaching/consultation and therapy services to individuals, couples and families.