I find myself on the edge. I have been reading blogs like Feelin' Feminine (which I have linked here before) and Little Homestead in the City, many of which have feature some very intelligent women who happen to be writing about their lifestyles - homesteading, homeschooling, self-sufficiency, femininity, modesty, grace... and on top of it all, Christianity.
Here, I am torn. I love the dialogue I can have with these women at times, and I admire their insights on life, appreciate their dedication to their homes and families, and envy (yes, I admit to such an emotion!) their talents and skills (cooking, cleaning, sewing, knitting and crochet, soap and candlemaking, gardening, art, music, song, and so much more!). I feel unaccomplished at 24, next to these graceful and mostly humble young women. I am sure I could achieve most of what they have (I do not aspire to be a parent, and that is one difference I do not wish to erase), were I to apply myself. However, I am not a Christian and that brings up some tension.
I do not want to be a Christian, and I have chosen my spiritual path after a lot of thought, not because someone else was doing it or because I felt the need to fit in. I fully appreciate the appeal of religion; I understand its use in leading a purposeful life and the support it provides for both men and women seeking to live according to a moral code and belong to a supportive, tightly-knit group. I don't think there's anything wrong with living according to religious principles; I simply choose not to. And I feel that because of my choice I am not welcome to engage in discussion or befriend some of these women; they speak words of welcome but they discuss openly the fact that those who do not follow Christ/YHWH/Yahweh/Jeshua are not to be 'left alone' or 'tolerated' but actively spoken against and encouraged to join the fold. Some of them speak of "standing out from the crowd" of sinners and non-believers and then turn around to encourage conformity and group support within the ranks. I have yet to decide how hypocritical I think this is, but I know Christians aren't the only group to do it (there's an entire blog post on the psychology of groupthink just waiting to be written).
I'll give you this - you choose your friends, and if one of them does something you don't approve of, you have every right to say something. Against strangers, though? If I want criticism of my life I have no further to look than the nearest mirror; I don't need others to judge me for me. I think there is a fine line between living an upright life in support of the Lord and proclaiming loudly that anyone who doesn't live such a life should convert immediately. We all have the right and the duty to "be the change we would like to see in the world", so to speak. We have the right to surround ourselves with people who support our lifestyle or to go into the world to witness to others, knowing the intellectual dangers that associating with those different than us can introduce - namely, having our opinion softened or swayed by the very people we would like to convert. We all recognize that to associate with someone is to be influenced by them and maybe the loud proclamations against nonbelievers are simply a way of protecting oneself against the inevitable erosion. I still don't think it's the correct way of going about things.
I think that if you want to live a certain lifestyle, you should do so. Live in a way that glorifies God, or Nature, or yourself. Blog about it. Welcome discussion. But be open and accept that others will come to you seeking more than condemnation. Be an example to those around you of the things you hold most dear. If you live as a true example of the things you wish to uphold, others will seek you out and convert to your way of thinking on their own; seeing your success and happiness will bring them around more effectively than a hundred thousand years of proselytizing ever could.
I want to live with grace and let my actions speak for me. I only hope I'm not letting my mouth get too far ahead!