Many of us struggle to make sense of what we experience as conflicting parts of ourselves. Our desire to be morally upright and ethically strong finds itself challenged by our deepest sexual desires, or our desire to smack someone in the mouth who has been brutal to us or, even worse, to someone we love. The deep desire some have to honor their experience of God is often challenged by our most primal impulses.
So who are we? How do we resolve what we experience as contrary things? I believe we learn to realize and accept that all of the above makes the whole. That the separation of these things in our hearts and minds is driven by far too many misguided and oftentimes punitive belief systems. The all of your human experience makes the whole; there is no division. Our primal instincts are the very things that have kept our species going and the fracturing driven by dysfunctional belief systems is the very thing that will bring our species to its conclusion.
I’ve gotten to thinking about this because I am reading an amazing biography of Leo Tolstoy by Henri Troyat. I am early on in the book, but the struggle described above is one Tolstoy, at least when he is in his twenties, which is how old he is in the page I’m on, struggled mightily with. How can he please God while at the same time have and act on his carnal desires? Far too often religion, not God, demands we not be human. Carnal desire is a healthy thing and has been known to have a wee bit to do with why babies are born (duh).
The instincts to be sexually “out there”, as it were, or to smack someone in the mouth, makes you human, not bad. It is your relationship with your instincts that makes the difference. I recently learned of a young woman who was shot at twice, the second shot shattering the drivers’ side window just after she entered the vehicle. Not only did I want to choke the individual who shot at her, I wanted to put one man who told the girl’s mother that she was being too dramatic because she was upset for her daughter right through a wall. Does this mean I would actually inflict physical damage on this man were I to meet him? No. It does mean, however, that I would get in his face and verbally rip into him.
My point is this. We are all human beings and this truth is a glorious gift. While we are wise and healthy to respect our fellow human beings, we are wise and healthy to respect ourselves too. And you don’t have to deny the all of your humanity to achieve this. I don’t give a damn what they say.
Give yourself permission to be you, that’s what you’re here for and, if there is a God, I suspect that is exactly what God would want. After all, God would know a helluva lot more about the life paths we should be on than some putz on a mission to control others.