The Fear of Judgement

I suddenly realized yesterday what exactly has been haunting me as of late.  I suddenly realized the root of my sadness.  It wasn't as simple as loneliness.
To explain the present realization, I need to explain the past.

I am the eldest daughter of an Episcopalian priest.  Being the oldest child, and always being a very analytical person, I have never felt free from the pressure of "doing the right thing."  I had a pretty traumatic childhood that led me to play a major role in raising my 2 younger sisters.  When I see someone hurting, it is in my nature to immediately want to form my life around theirs, molding my life to be a loving example for them to follow.  My greatest concern is making sure that people around me know that I fully love and accept them despite any fears they may have.
Growing up as a priest's daughter, I literally had hundreds of people older than me trying to parent me and critique me on who I should be.  All of the people in my church were kind and good people, but in trying to love me, they instead made me feel constantly guilty that I could not be the person that they expected me to be.  Thank God my dad always just let me be myself and choose my own life.  But that constant feeling of continually disappointing those around me has never left, thanks to all of those people trying to tell me who I could and couldn't be.
"Moorea, you are the priest's daughter, you can't listen to that music."
"Moorea, what would your father think of you if you got a B in Religion class."
"Oh, so you are a priest's daughter huh?  Are you the angel one or the rebel one?  Every pastor's kid either ends up being a saint or a drugged up loser in and out of jail."

All I wanted when I was little was just to be left alone.  Everyone wondered why I was such a shy kid, why I couldn't be bubbly and friendly.  Everyone couldn't understand why I fought so hard to just not be labeled.  But, how was I supposed to just be a kid and feel the freedom of childhood when everyone's eyes were ALWAYS on me?  Every parent in the church was analyzing the priest's daughters.  Everyone was making up their idea of who I was and then spreading the false gospel of "who Moorea is" to their children as an example of who they should be.  I am not perfect.  I am not your ideals.  Likewise, my father is not the embodiment of your ideals.  He is not God, he is not Jesus, he is simply a human who cannot escape the presence of God.  At the same time though, it is in my nature to want to be a good example to others.  And in my dad's nature as well.  But being the best example to others is not just "following the rules" all the time.  The best example one can be to others is to love others deeply and truly, and love ones self as equally as much.  Both require honesty.  Both require acceptance.  Those are far more important than being legalistic and blindly following rules.

I have always been cautious and wary of opening up fully to those around me.  I try my best to let others know that I fully accept them despite any shame or fear that they have because that is exactly what I need in return.  But rarely do I feel safe enough in the presence of others to open up to them as much as they open up to me.  I am fully myself and cannot be un-true to who I am.  And because I am fully and truthfully myself, I often times feel like I have to restrain certain opinions and thoughts that I have so as not to offend someone who I relate to in a different or contrasting way.  I am cautious, and I am passionate about what I believe to be true.  My major problem is that I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I am very liberal.  My whole life I have felt half accepted and half rejected by my Christian friends and the same goes for by my more liberal friends.  I don't preach about my faith, and I don't preach about my liberal leanings.

I stay moderate by staying mute.  And, up until the past 5 years, it has always left me feeling depressed and alone.

After I transferred to college in Seattle, I finally found friends who both believed in God like I do but also had more liberal ethical and social leanings.  For the first time in my life, I felt free from the judgment of those around me.  [ Note:  I am NOT a Hipster Christian.  Please, never call me that.  Never have I felt cool because of my beliefs.  Never would I choose to be Christian because it was trendy or suddenly accepted.  I am haunted by God, and so I follow him.  Simple facts. ]  With the friends I made in college, I no longer felt like I had to constantly make decisions based on making an example for others, I was free to state my deepest thoughts and honestly and openly live my fullest life.  An accepting and open community is the best place to let a person blossom, without labels, without expectations.  Why are such spaces so rare?

In the last month, I have suddenly felt that community dissipate.  I graduated from undergrad over a year ago.  But this past month was the one where all of my very closest friends moved away.  Brit to NY, Anne to Guatemala, and Katie to California.  I found out 2 days ago that my sweet friend Justin is suddenly moving to Florida for a job on Wednesday!  It has been a lot to take in.

I am a strong willed woman.  I believe in the power of putting one's mind to something and following through.  After a debilitating bout with depression 6 years ago, I suddenly understood what it meant to find strength in oneself and in a universal power to keep going and stay positive no matter what.  But suddenly losing all the friends I feel most vulnerable with, most safe with, and most understood by within the last month, I think I just cracked.  I couldn't open up to any of my friends who are still here in Seattle.  There was a lost soul wandering around in my interior world.

I didn't realize though that the sadness I was experiencing was because of a lack of vulnerability in my current life.  My boyfriend is working at a camp in the woods 2 states away from me and I hadn't been able to talk to him in 2 weeks because their internet stopped working.  Not his fault, but it still meant we were unable to talk for a long time.  I felt the presence of all of those I love deepest just vanish, all within the past month.  And I felt trapped in a space of lonely quiet, a space of confinement and fear.  And yesterday, I suddenly realize the root of my problem.

My deepest fear is being misunderstood by friends and seeing them disappointed in me.  I am fearful of Christian friends saying that I am not Christian because of what I believe.  God is love, but sometimes his followers are really mean.  And I am fearful of non-Christian friends rejecting me because I believe in God and associate myself with some really judgmental people.  I can't just quickly open up to others because I am a completely honest person and I cannot lie about what I hold true.  I can't open up quickly because I am fearful of others feeling offended by what I believe in.  I am fearful of others being disappointed in me for what I believe.  I am fearful of others thinking less of me simply because of who I am and what I hold true.  I never want to judge others because I am fearful of their judgment and I don't want them to have to fear like I do.  I want them to know that their beliefs are as equally valid as mine, and I can't handle the thought of them thinking that I think less of them for anything we may disagree over.

It was a little overwhelming realizing all of this yesterday.  Strong willed and artistic women don't like to admit fear :)  But here I am ladies and gents, letting you know the deal.  I am human.   I am not perfect.  I am not your ideals.  I am not God, I am not Jesus, I am simply a human with a rational thinking mind and an emotional creative spirit who cannot escape the presence of God.  I didn't ask to be Christian.  I just experience God and I can't ignore Him or escape Him.  So here I am, a liberal lover of God.  I am truthful.  I am honest.  I am fully and wholly myself.  I am ever changing, ever morphing and growing, but always in the eternal presence that is now, that is I, that is we.

I want you to know, I am your friend.  If you read my blog, we probably at least have 1 or 2 things in common that keep you coming back here to say hello :)  But all beings are unique.  And that is beautiful.  We are diverse.  And that diversity is needed to help us shape each other in love and in acceptance.  I want you to know that I sincerely and honestly accept you and love you fully, EVEN with all of those things that I may not hold as my own truths, EVEN with all of those things that you are ashamed of, EVEN with all of those things that you think I might not like.  It doesn't matter.  You are full, you are you, own all that you are.  Always seek to love others, and always seek to trust that others will learn to love you by the example of acceptance and love that you give to them.  You are strength.  You have your own free will.  Now go do something beautiful with all of the powerful person that you are.

I feel so much better realizing my fear.  Now that I understand it, I have the choice to fight that fear and come out even more sincere and loving <3  I am still a bit afraid to make some bold statements about what I do believe in my faith and how there are certain things that I completely disagree with in the greater church.  But growing and freeing oneself is a process.  I hatched out of depression a long time ago, thank God.  And I've stayed safe in my nest for a few years.  But now it is time to start figuring out how to fly.  I've got to let myself flounder for a bit and learn to feel fine when other birds see me falling out of my nest, running into trees, and doing other things that they think are ridiculous.  I will trust that all that matters is my own strength, the love I have in friends near and far, and the never failing Son that warms my spirit and shines on every sweet being here on earth, where gravity tries to keep us down, but love keeps us floating.

Love you.
especially if you managed to read this whole thing, haha


Diana said...

omg. This is one of those posts I didn't want to read because I really needed to read it kind of posts (hope that makes sense).

I'm a daughter of an Southern Baptist, and my step dad is a pastor and a retired professor from Biola (that's double judgement for me, yikes) and my mom was a director of the Sunday School program.

I'm strong in my faith but as much as I love people, I'm frightened of Christians. I consider myself a Democrat and just that word is considered a dirty word with some of my very fundamentalist friends. I also know the word Christian is enough to have my very atheist/liberal friends judge me. However, it makes me sad they judge God based on people, and I'm conflicted- how do i share my faith in a blogesphere without getting personal? This is something I've been struggling with since I began blogging, and this post hit home, a little more than I wanted to.

Thank you for this.

Denise said...

I have always been amazed by people who have an inner confidence to be themselves at all times and not worry what others think. Something to aspire to:) Why do some Christians think it is OK to be judgmental?

Kyla Roma said...

Moorea, you're such a beautiful soul! I wish I could hug you <3

Finding a place in the world where you feel like you really fit is tough, especially when you feel the weight of expectation on you. I've been working through that lately too. And then on top of that finding a way to express your faith can be really hard - I feel like sometimes people 'read' what you're saying as being about them, if that makes sense?

As confusing as it might be at times, please just be who you are, express it as best you can, and don't apologize for your beliefs or for what you want. You are an amazing, inspiring person, and your heart shines through in everything you do.

~Pam~ said...

Hi Moorea!
I am new to your blog and I love it! You write beautifully, sharing yourself and your thoughts.
Also checked out your Etsy shop, oh my goodness,love the tiny book necklaces. I do believe I will be ordering one very soon.
Take care and God bless you!

San said...

Hi Moorea, I am a new reader to (came here by way of Kyla's blog) and I really loved this post.

I love that you don't want to compromise yourself in order to fit into someone else's pigeonholing.

The first step in order to move forward to identify the problem/fear and it seems like you've made this first step!

couchbarnacle said...

"I am haunted by God, and so I follow him."

This is quite possibly one of the best explanations I have ever heard about how God's influence just overwhelms me.

Hi. I'm a new reader. I dealt with depression in high school so much so that my parents had me medicated. Thankfully, I was able to come back from that dark time. This is what I remember most about my therapy from that time. Hopefully, it helps.

The important thing to remember when you feel like every support system you have is crumbling is that in this world there is chaos. Things change constantly and dramatically and it can be really really scary. But you have to find the things that help ground you so that you can weather the storm. Find things that bring you peace. For example, God, family, friends, knitting, painting, tennis, paintball, etc. Find things that give you a chance to catch your breath so that you can relax into a familiar moment. Don't let the chaos paralyze you. Because within all of that change are opportunities and beauty. It tests your resolution and gives you hope that you can face other things. This world is a whirlwind and we have to be able to weather the storm as well as glide along with it.

Carolina said...

I think I kind of understand where you are coming from. I grew up non-Mormon in Provo, UT (Mormon central). While I don't believe in that faith many of my friends from growing up do, I still love and respect them for trying to deal with and understand life in a way that makes sense to them. And it's hard to feel stuck in the middle of those who judge me for not being LDS and those who automatically judge my friends as being close minded (when they are not that way) because they are LDS. I get really nervous to talk about my beliefs or often times anything in general with people from growing up being bounced around between the two extremes. And it can be very painful, confusing, and frustrating...

People can behave very meanly towards what they don't understand and what doesn't fit an expected mold. Sometimes people will feel threatened by your uniqueness because they themselves are worried about being judged, even if you haven't judged them. This has been something confusing for me to understand, but I have met a lot of people that think I am judging them simply because I have a belief in something they don't. Regardless of the fact I never judged them for that difference. Some things we just can't control in life. That, how people want to view things, is one of them :\

I love reading your blog, I believe that you can work through this fear :) You're amazing.

Laura Belle said...

Moorea...this was beautifully & eloquently composed. Truly. It's hard to stand out, and speak insecurities like this, especially when we self-employed creatives are supposed to be all gung-ho and confident(more like just the opposite).

I'm so glad you were able to stand back and see this about yourself...it will only make you stronger and so much more able to deal with what comes at-cha down the road. There are few people these days that are able to self-examine their lives like you just did, especially after dealing with such an emotionally rough period, so well done lady.

Also, I have the utmost respect for you about writing about your struggles with balancing your "real-life" faith (I'm not sure how to word that so I hope that makes sense). I couldn't agree more with your feelings of tension on both sides...I have been, and probably always will be dealing with the same things lately as well. You said it so perfectly, "I am haunted by God, and so I follow him." It is a haunting because it never really goes away, always in the back of your mind. Just know you're not alone in feeling that same struggle between what you believe and what everyone else wants you to believe and that you've gotten so far already in recognizing that.I'd love for Seattle & Minneapolis to be a little closer so we could grab a coffee and chat about all this for a while. You can always email if you need a friendly listener.

Keep your chin up lady and focus on all the happy things. You've got a new studio and an adorable little shop to work on. The rest will come together.

Wow...sorry for writing a novel of a comment! All love.

JD said...

You are so incredibly inspiring.

Christopher Seal said...

Well, I can say I agree with you completely. It is a terrible burden for people be expected to live up to other people's fantasies. Be who you really are, and the whole world will be the better for it. Personally, living up to the ridiculous ideas people have about me/us is not only depressing sometimes, it's also impossible. As well, I sincerely apologize for my own shortcomings in that regard.

elycia said...

beautiful post moorea. i understand a lot of what you are saying about not wanting to be judged for what you believe or don't believe. i admire your honesty. i don't feel comfortable talking about religion online. i am not religious and i feel like a lot of people in the blog world are. on my blog i have just chosen not to mention it (i know i'm mentioning it here, haha, you have inspired me i guess). i guess i don't want to be judged for my non-belief.
i think it is a very touchy subject but your post is written in a way that did not make me feel uncomfortable at all. you expressed yourself very well :) i really enjoyed reading this.


Kara said...

I can really identify with a lot of what you said. I've grown up in a very convservative, Baptist and get a lot of grief from family and church people who think it's wrong for me to have the political beliefs that I do. And then I just barely moved to a very liberal art school where I don't know one Christian. I feel like I belong with a lot of them, but still want the support of people who love Jesus. So, I don't know what I'm saying... Other than I agree.

God bless. :)

lauren calderon said...

Moorea, I normally don't post comments on people's blogs, but I had to say..after reading this post it was great to know that there is someone else out there that feels the same as me.

I was raised in a very strict Christan home and I have never strayed from my beliefs, but as I've gotten older there are things in this world that I just don't agree with, making me have some liberal views. I have been judged by my Christian friends for some of beliefs. I know that there are things they don't agree with, but you are right some believers are just mean. I struggled with this for awhile. Going back and fourth and trying to figure out why I was such a bad person. But I've realized that my relationship with God is MY relationship no one else's. And no matter what as long as I stay true to myself and my beliefs it shouldn't matter what others think. Great post. Thanks

Amy --- Just A Titch said...

Moorea, I love this post. I grew up as the daughter of the Children's Ministries director of a church and my whole life, I felt like I was under a microscope, people watching, waiting, seeing what I'd do, offering their opinions. When I was 19, I left the church and later got married and divorced and was sort of the talk of the church (and I'm sure an embarrassment to my parents in that I was so discussed). I left because of what you said: God is love but his followers are mean sometimes. I can completely relate to this feeling of wanting to please people, of trying to find a place in the world, of trying to be seen as someone of value instead of being caught between two worlds. I'm sorry you're feeling that way. All I can say is that I get it. You're so creative and inspiring, and I hope that you find a community where you feel safe and loved and happy soon.

Sara Kate said...

OK, I know I'm late in the game on this (forgive me, I just got to your blog today!), but I really had to thank you for this post. Like everyone else, apparently, I totally relate to this.

I've typed and re-typed my response, but I can't ever get everything I want to say into a reasonable amount of space. So I'll just say that I am eternally grateful for liberal parents that let me find my own path in life. At 26, I'm still not sure what I believe in, but I'll never judge anyone else for their own beliefs. My theory is, if there IS a big man upstairs, he wants us to live our lives as good, caring, and loving people, which I try my best to do every day.

Keep on being such an awesome chick, and don't let anyone tell you anything otherwise.

jbarstroff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jbarstroff said...

What a wonderful Post!

I recently had the same revelation to myself, actually to be honest it was about a half hour ago, so I typed into google to see what Mr Google had to say about fear of judgement. I'm so glad I found your post! I've unfortunately never lived in a scene where I've been able to open myself up like you could in Seattle, and being almost 22 now in my fourth year of college about to drop out (well I hope you're being honest about not judging cause I'm a terrible person on paper) I finally burst and had to express my thoughts to my very conservative Catholic Veterinarian mother and Accountant father. Well guess what happened: now I'm in a process of seeing a bunch of doctors and psychologists, not because I want to but for my parents, to convince them that I'm not actually crazy. My feedback from the doctors: one said I was smarter than him and seemed like a shaman and couldn't pinpoint a psychological disease on me, and another said I had a fantastic grasp of the English language and would enjoy further talks with me. The journey is not over, I still have another psychologist to talk to and an mri to get done tomorrow.. yay. On the bright side being an intellectual person I've researched just about everything these guys know so nothing has surprised me so far when they try to educate me lol
I still feel like it was apparently more trouble than it was worth to open up to my parents, but I guess it would have had to happen sometime if I really wanted to pursue self-actualization, which in my opinion everyone should; keeps you from being another brick in the wall, or at least gives you a color.

Anyway enough ranting,
Glad I finally found someone like me, great post!
Feel free to email me (that goes for any of you fellow posters too),

Chuck Schneider