Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dignity vs, Manners

I listen occasionally to the Catholic radio show More2Life, hosted by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak. They answer family and relationship questions based on the Theology of the Body. I'm often surprised by the advice they give. Dr. Greg's advice stresses self-respect and boundaries. And while we often view behaving as Christians as allowing ourselves to be walked over, Dr. Greg and Lisa insist that this isn't what we were made for.

Not long ago I was thinking about an instance that I was feeling guilty about. I was worried that I had been rude in a passive way, and questioned if I had failed in my duty as a Christian through the interaction.

I ran into someone awhile ago, who, while I never knew him well, was closely related to someone who many, many years ago had been a friend of mine. That friendship didn't fizzle out, but ended harshly, with me on the receiving end of the limitless bounds of girl meanness. Years passed, I made real friendships, and moved on.

While catching up with this acquaintance, I was able to share about our life. He shared about what he had been up to, and what his future held. It was a pleasant conversation. However, I was consciously aware that the only association I had with him was this friend from so long ago, and I purposely didn't ask about her, and he never brought her up.

Days later I was still wondering, "Was that rude? Am I unkind?" Normally, for me, I enjoy conversation, and in another circumstance would have asked about the friends and family of whom I talking to. Thus the guilt.

That brings me back to the Popcak's. While I can't speak for them, I think I could predict what they would say. That is, of course it is my duty to be forgiving and kind. I hold no grudges, and would certainly be polite and friendly even if I did personally bump into this person, but I have a feeling that Popcak's would have told me that having respect for myself was just important, so as not to give the impression that I am the kind of person that can be walked all over without any consequences. I think they would have told me that I had no obligation to ask about well-being of someone who scorned me without any reconciliation.

For a lot of women, it is easier to "just be nice." To avoid confrontation at a risk of exposing your true feelings is oftentimes the more peaceful road. Rationally, sticking up for yourself isn't worth the emotional toll of making known your dissatisfaction. However, this logic isn't any more Christian than charitably sticking up for oneself, and reminding others of your shared dignity.

It's often not easy to stick up for your beliefs, and in turn, yourself. All of us "nice girls" need a reminder every once in a while, that we are are worth it, that we were bought with a price, and are due our respect and dignity, even if we demand it in gentler ways.

Have a happy weekend everyone!


Sarah said...

This is a very important topic, Mallory. Something I needed to read.

Mallory said...

Thanks, Sarah. I was reluctant to post it, but I think every once in a while it's important to think about not only social controversies, but relationships, too. Thank you.