This is probably one of the most challenging things for me to write about because it touches the subject of the Catholic church, my faith, scrupulosity struggles and letting go of how "I think" I should come across both in person and online through my writing.
I actually started a blog back in college in 2015 and would post weekly, but then there was just a moment where I stopped and deleted the entire blog, which included around 50 blog postings. Pretty sad, right? I felt so stuck in "writers block" and I did not really understand why. I remember thinking, I always have something to say or something I'm thinking about (haha). There was this definite inner struggle of wanting my writing and content to appear to be as "cradle Catholic" as possible. I truly don't even know what that means these days which is exactly why I put it in quotes, but I'd find myself writing a post, deleting it, thinking maybe this is "too much", maybe I need to look "more" Catholic. and less secular. It's like I was trying to put my writing in a box.
At the time I was living in what I'd say was a Catholic bubble. I was around predominately all Catholics and I was also like 20-21 years old dealing with my own questions and challenges about the church, while attempting to brush those questions off and avoid them. To me having questions about the church was wrong and I think a lot of that had to do with scrupulosity taking its course and the fear of what other Catholics would think of me. I wanted my content to be a lot like the Catholic instagrams I see nowadays and I was envious that it did not come natural to me. It did not come natural to me to write about my favorite saints or share parts of the Catechism or want to dive deep into theology in each conversation. I was annoyed with myself, because I should've wanted to do that, right? I mean if I was "Catholic enough" I should be able to share those things so easily.. right? These were the type of questions and lies running through my mind constantly.
What if I don't look Catholic enough?
How will others know I'm a Catholic if I'm not directly talking about it all the time?
What if I don't appear to look faithful enough?
Looking back at all of those questions spiraling through my head.. it really hit me that we have a long ways to go as church in inviting others in. If I could be a Catholic that grew up in the faith and was still more focused on my own scrupulous behavior and how I appeared to other Catholics than having a personal relationship with God, that's a problem.
The identity I put around myself of needing to look like a "cradle Catholic" in any gift I have was very real. So real, that I actually remember thinking I'd lose myself unless I worked for the church. I cannot get over how scrupulous that type of thinking was. It's something I've had to really work to let go of. It hasn't so much been hard, but it's been uncomfortable, actually extremely uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because who wants to experience Catholic guilt? Not me, man, not me.
I have a love for the Catholic faith and it's a priority for me to practice living the faith out in my life, but my writing is not exclusively Catholic nor do I want it to be because I want to be writing in a space where I make room for the spirit, not the scrupulous identities I have given to myself before. I have a deep desire to be out in the world speaking with others with different beliefs of different denominations and former Catholics as well. I could keep fighting that and stay in "writer's block" or I could just show up as myself. I don't see secular life as this enemy or road block in the way of practicing the faith. I don't have to be a great theologian or pretend that I've agreed with every teaching of the church. Truthfully, I haven't. I've had questions. I still have questions and challenges I face after being a Catholic for 20+ years. I'm human and like anyone else I have limiting beliefs, questions, challenges and am curious in this life and that does not make me less of anything, that just means I'm having a human experience.
My "rose-colored" glasses have been taken off and maybe I am an outcast because I'm not a trad Catholic sharing all of the Catholic resources, but I'm leaving that up to the people that feel fully alive in doing that to do so. I know I was built to share my heart more relationally and I'm going to do just that.
Be an outcast for what makes you feel fully alive.
We need people in ALL spaces.