Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Other R-Word

I don't agree with Sarah Palin about much of anything, but I'm totally with her that we should absolutely stop using the word "retarded" to refer to things that we think are silly or frustrating or dumb. It is a demeaning and flippant use of that word and should absolutely be stopped by all thinking people.

And now I'm going to admit that just writing the above two sentences sends me into mild waves of panic because I know that I probably have a reader who isn't a bad person who has been conditioned to call things "retarded" and might feel bad now. I have progressive readers who are probably aghast that I should even mention Mrs. Palin and conservative readers who are offended that I would mention that I don't agree with her on anything else.

Which brings me to the r-word that really terrifies me: REJECTION.No Admittancephoto © 2010 Seth Anderson | more info (via: Wylio)

I wish I could say that I don't care what people think of me when I write things about interfaith marriage or gay affirmation or teaching your kids about faith when you're a doubter, and to some degree that's true. There is a cathartic feeling to getting those ideas and feelings out there.

But I like being liked. It feels good to read through your comments and see lots of positives and no negatives. To not worry about getting an email full of concern. To go blissfully about my day, not wondering if people are talking about what a heretic I am. Because no matter how much I stand behind my ideas, it feels pretty crappy knowing that people might reject me because of those ideas. That I might end on the outside because of my opinions is a somewhat unpleasant feeling.

That fear can be a very powerful stifling factor when it comes to asking questions. What if we come to a conclusion that differs from what most people in our circle think? Last week Chad Holtz's story went a bit viral. We saw not a sex scandal or embezzlement scheme take down a pastor, but instead unpopular opinions led to his firing. For most of us, our jobs aren't on the line, but there can be real consequences nevertheless.

Unfortunately, we tend to think only of the negative consequences. But there can be positive consequences as well.

When we share ideas that are risky, we allow other people the opportunity to be risky as well. Risky in relationships. Risky with their own ideas.

Rejection is always a possibility when we go out on a limb. But let's not forget that sometimes the r-word that we end up with is rewards. And those are worth the risk.

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What risky thing have you done recently? What was the reaction? Do you have a favorite r-word?



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