Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gut-check Time

My chickens are coming home to roost. Various lifestyle choinces I have made over the course of my life are converging in a way that is probably going to be painful. I'm seriously contemplating that many friends who I love and respect are going to simply write me off.

In college, I hung out with and made friends with conservative, evangelical Christians and Catholics of a similar political and moral bent. At the same time, I have never really bought in to the "family values" espoused by my friends nor their interpretation of the Christian faith. I'm no fundamentalist - Catholic or otherwise. However, I sang in a choir an went to Mass on Sunday (sometimes) and made friends with conservative Christians of many denomintations and confessions.

On the other hand, I have a completely different take on the Christian faith these days and have integrated my values and my faith into my character in a much more authentic way. In other words, I no longer feel guilty when my lifestyle choices are in conflict with conservative, traditional, or fundamentalistic interpretations of Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, or doctrine and dogma.

No, these days I feel guilty about portaying myself as someone I am not for the purposes of holding a job, maintaining friendships and maintaining a false peace in relationships. Consequently, I feel I need to come clean with those people I love about who I really am, even if it costs me their friendship, trust and respect. The occasion for all of this is, of course, my upcoming wedding.

Let me be clear: I do not want to sever these relationships. I love my friends. I understand where they might be coming from. I want them to come to my wedding if they can. I want them to celebrate my joy with me.

On the other hand, I need to be honest with them. I don't want any of them showing up and saying, "I didn't know that! I've been duped! I never would have come if I'd known!" So I need to tell them, one at a time if I have to, that I've been living with my fiancee for two years now and we're going to have a baby in April. Being honest about this with my employer already cost me my job, being honest about this with my family has cost me their idyllic conceptions about "the good Catholic boy" they thought they had (which fulfilled all my super-egotistical desires for approval and praise), and being honest about this with some of my friends may very well cost me their friendship.

I pray this is not the case. In my heart, I hope my friends will accept me for who I really am and forgive me for appearing to be someone I am not for so long. But I'm realistic. And I know that some of them will use this as justification to break off what little remains of a friendship that meant something once upon a time.