Editor's note: This piece, by Troy Dunn, originally appeared on his Facebook page, "Troy the Locator". It has been reprinted here with permission.
An apology is what we offer when we have done something wrong. It is NOT what we say (or think) when we do something unpopular. We do NOT apologize for making decisions that others may not agree with. We do NOT apologize for being politically incorrect. Do not let society, peer pressure or "the cool people" cause you to feel apologetic for living the life you believe is right for you and your family!
Here are five random things you do NOT owe anybody an apology for, nor should you feel one ounce of guilt for (I welcome suggestions at my Facebook page for other random issues we should not apologize for):
1. Being Married
It seems that in today's world divorce is more popular than forgiveness and hard work. I recently spoke with a woman (sitting next to me on a plane) who was explaining to me that her husband had an affair and yet she decided to stay with him and forgave him.
She said to me, "I know what you are thinking. I'm a fool and should have left him." I was shocked that before I had even spoken a word about it, she had already prepared herself for what she thought I would say.
What I said to her instead was, "Cindy, why would you assume my response would be to disagree with your decision to stay in your marriage?" To which she replied, "Well, that's what most people say when I tell them my husband cheated on me."
I said, "Cindy, most people say that to you because in their minds, they cannot imagine mustering up the strength and the courage to actually stay in the marriage and do the hard work that forgiveness requires. For them, quitting or abandoning the marriage is the only solution that makes sense to them. (And by the way, that's not always the wrong choice. There are many valid reasons for divorce so don't consider this an attack on divorced people. It is not.) But that doesn't mean it is the right choice for you. You have invested 16 years into building this family and have brought two children into the world with this man. If the two of you believe in the value of family enough to rebuild yours after a disaster like infidelity hits your home, and that feels like the right decision to make, then I applaud you for being strong enough to choose the hard path of work."
She began to weep a little and said that things are better than ever in their life now; her husband has been the one who has worked tirelessly to earn back her trust, and she has worked daily to extend new trust and the forgiveness that goes along with a healthy relationship. I say to you the reader what I said to Cindy that evening on the plane - do NOT apologize for working hard at your marriage and enduring difficult times. Staying in there and fighting for what you have built and invested in may not always be what friends or family would tell you to do, but don't apologize for choosing marriage over divorce. This is your life. You will only live it once. Live it your way!
2. Staying Home With Your Children
I realize this is the 21st century and women are finally getting more of the respect they have deserved all along. Women are certainly as capable as men at building careers, running companies, even running countries! (Some might say even more so!) And many women are doing exactly that! Bravo! But there are still women (millions of them) who choose to run a family rather than a company. This is their CHOICE! They didn't end up there because of a lack of options. They didn't end up there because birth control didn't work! They have dedicated their life to being a full-time, stay-at-home mother and homemaker.
I am married to such a woman. She is brilliant, gifted and incredibly creative. She is articulate, well-spoken and could be a dominant player in any industry she wants to invest her time and energy into. She has chosen motherhood as her career, her life. And nothing else. She isn't balancing a day job and motherhood or attempting to be a "have-it-all" woman as the media seems to celebrate in so many fictional TV shows and movies. ("Have-it-all" and unicorns - same thing.)
Why is it when a full-time mother is asked what she does for a living, so many of them feel some awkwardness about saying they are a stay-at-home-mother? When did "mother-shaming" become a thing in this society? When did women who can make conference calls, build products and earn management titles begin to think of themselves in any way superior to the woman who can nurture, educate, protect and inspire the next generation of people? Who lied to women and told them that if they want to achieve their potential it can only happen outside the home with strangers? Why do moms (the most amazing people on earth in my opinion) feel less-than-relevant when in fact they may be the most relevant people in existence?
They are better in tune with the educational system; they can better explain the trends in society because those trends are coming out of children and teens; and they have MORE control of shaping the future of the world because they are the actual engineers of tomorrow! When a woman enters a room and announces she is a full-time, stay-at-home mom, a hush should fall over the crowd and wise people should draw near her to learn more from her. She has much she can teach you that will help in whatever career you have chosen as your life path. She is a negotiator, a team builder, a peace maker, a disciplinarian, a manager, a laborer, a politician, an educator, law enforcement, judge, nurse, friend, counselor, spiritual advisor and she is ALL of those things by CHOICE.
I was once taught by my father to never ask a woman if she is pregnant. That advice has served me well on many occasions! May I toss a little unsolicited advice out to the universe right now? Never ask a woman if she works! Never ask a man if his wife works! What an ignorant question! OF COURSE SHE WORKS! And to the stay-at-home moms of the world, when anyone asks you what you do for a living, look that person right in the eyes and with great pride, with full knowledge that what you are doing is by choice and by blessing, proclaim yourself a full-time mother! Stop apologizing for doing such admirable, essential work in the world. Oh, and from all of us who value motherhood and view it as an honorable profession, thank you.
3. Using the "J Word"
Why is it that our society seems to be more comfortable with people dropping profanities than the "J word"...Jesus? How is it that in a predominantly Christian nation (83 percent according to recent polls) the word "Jesus" is so awkward for many people to say or hear? How is it that as a society, we have allowed ourselves to be scared or shamed into not speaking the name Jesus except in a whisper and only in limited places? When did that behavior become normal or even expected?? It seems you can get away with saying the word Jesus as a slang word but not in its proper context.
In the Dunn home, there are a number of words we have taught our children not to say, no matter how "normal" those words may be in certain circles of society. We do not say "retarded" as a slang term. I find the word offensive and insensitive to the families of loved ones who are mentally retarded. That's not us being politically correct. It is simply teaching our children to respect others. Same goes for the word "gay." When used as slang, it is generally used as a negative connotation. It seems to have replaced the word stupid or dumb. "That movie was so gay." Regardless of what your personal feelings may or may not be about homosexuality, the slang use of the word "gay" is offensive to many and that's reason enough in the Dunn family to not use the term.
But the word "Jesus" is not one of those words. It is a word which, to the majority of Americans (and millions of others around the world) is the name of their Savior. For many, that entity, Jesus, is the driving force behind most personal decisions.
For example, in the Dunn family, we pray about all major life decisions. So the name of Jesus is mentioned in our home frequently. Even when we are teaching our children right from wrong, we occasionally discuss the example of Jesus as described in the Bible. This is nothing unique. The majority of Americans do variations of the same thing. So why is it that we have allowed "political correctness" to silence the word "Jesus" as part of our everyday vocabulary? How is it that we leave our homes and when we get to the office or school or the gym, we set that word aside for fear of being ridiculed or judged? What happened?
I am not calling for an all-out attack on society by working the word "Jesus" into every possible conversation. But for God's sake (used properly just then), don't be afraid or ashamed to use "the J word" in your normal everyday speech. It isn't just a "Sunday word" as some seem to think. Or at least it shouldn't be.
Stop apologizing for believing in Jesus. Stop apologizing for believing in anything! Whatever your faith is, whatever your belief is, no need to shove it in anyone's face, but there is absolutely no reason to be shamed into silence! If the "J word" is a part of your real life, let it be part of your real vocabulary.
4. Making Good Choices
The influence of pop culture, mass media and the people who live and die by it, seems to have successfully pressured good people to hide their good decisions. Why? Since when did being "good" become a crime or at the very least, something to be ashamed of? Stop apologizing for making choices that go against the norm or against what pop culture is selling as "the norm".
I am one that does not believe in judging others any more than is necessary to protect my family and myself. Judgment calls are made by all of us every day. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying to you or is soaking in a big tub of denial. But I truly do believe we all have the agency to choose how we live, what we do with our time and who we spend our time with. Go. Live your life. I support everyone's right to choose how they live. But stop apologizing if the life you choose to live is against what pop culture says it should be!
If you choose not to drink, don't feel pressured into pretending you do. If you have decided to live a life of chastity, embrace it. If you don't see pot smoking as "normal," say that! If you don't see R rated movies, don't let others make you feel "weird" about that! What you and your family consider normal is up to YOU! Don't let any TV show, movie or music video pressure you into going against what you believe to be right! Same goes for the pressure you may feel from co-workers, classmates and other relatives or "friends." (I put friends in quotes because I believe a true friend accepts you for who you are and doesn't try to influence your behavior...unless it's an intervention!)
Why is it that the world has become ashamed to eat dessert?!? Has all of this media banter of obesity and lazy lifestyles caused everyone to now be ashamed to have a piece of cake at a birthday party or a slice of homemade pie at Thanksgiving?
Lately, anytime I am out to eat with someone and the waiter brings out the dessert menu, the other person inevitably says, "Oh gosh I really shouldn't!" as they glance over at me as if to say, "Will you respect me less if I order a little dessert?"
My response is usually something like, "Dessert is fun! Let's have some!" No apology, no stupid reference like, "I'm going to have to go home and get on the treadmill after this!" Stop it! You do NOT have to apologize for eating dessert! (Unless dessert is your entrée!)
And while we are on this topic, stop teaching your children that dessert is evil. It's NOT! You can teach moderation and teach that it's a special treat for special occasions if you'd like. But stop making your children believe that bad kids eat cookies and good kids eat apples! And don't lecture me about childhood obesity trends. Our children are taught the JOY of sports (the secret word for exercise, shhh) and the importance of good nutrition. They are also taught that cake is awesome! And mommy makes amazing chocolate chip cookies! And Christmas isn't the same without making Santa shaped cookies to enjoy and deliver to friends in the neighborhood!
I double-dog dare you to have dessert tonight with your family and not make a single negative comment about it. Just bring it out, smile and enjoy it with your family!
Bottom line, live your life in the manner you choose to live it, without apologizing for it. Apologizing is for when we hurt someone or something. Do not apologize for making choices that pop culture disagrees with. Now go have guilt-free dessert with your family!
If you agree with ANY of the statements in this article, SHARE THIS NOW. Without apology!