The word righteous has come up three times so far this year. I do not remember this word coming into my life once in the last ten years.
Yes Universe, I am listening exactly what message are you trying to send me right now?
Two of the times this word came up was in the context of two completely unrelated people “acting self-righteous”. My skin crawled a bit each time that judgement was used but I moved on.
The third time it was my mother telling me that I am kind and righteous in the form of a compliment. I know her words were well intentioned but that word being used to describe me took me from skin-crawling to feeling completely covered in slimy shame and disgust.
Apparently I have a problem with this word. I have been sitting with this truth for weeks in order to understand it better.
I emailed one of my soul friends at one point and asked her what the word meant to her and what her first reaction to the word was.
She emailed me back the following:
First thought, used today as old-school surfer slang. Second, of or pertaining to goodness. Third, negative connotation related to disparaging accusations like “self-righteous”.
I emailed her back and agreed those were my thoughts and reactions to the word as well but in reverse.
My first thought/reaction is the judgement statement around being “self-righteous”.
My second thought has to do with pureness and goodness.
My third thought takes me to a Jeff Spicoli type character riding a wave in California.
I guess it is a matter of perspective, and the experiences guiding the perspective of myself and my soul friend are different so it makes sense that we would come at this word from different directions.
I am realizing I struggle with this word for two reasons (there might be more than two reasons but so far two main reasons have risen to the surface for me).
- The Us vs Them mentality. What is the difference between myself, who my mother referred to as righteous, and the other individuals who have been labeled as self-righteous? My truth: very little. Compassion tells me that very little separates me from these individuals. These individuals are both righteous AND self-righteous, just as I am both righteous AND self-righteous, just as we all are both righteous AND self-righteous. Righteous is white light and Self-Righteous is black darkness, together the white and the black, the light and dark come together in truth: GRAY.
- Religious undertones. For me this word takes me straight to the church, it takes me to a place of pain and ridicule and otherness. My truth is that if this is a matter of Us vs. Them, I am on the Them side of that fence, not the Us.
The second struggle is my truer struggle I think. I already know my truth when it comes to Us vs. Them mentality, if that was my only issue I would have moved on quickly without giving it much thought because I am sound in my truth. The reason I was so triggered and felt myself linger in this place of feeling triggered was because of my second struggle.
Righteous is word that belongs to the church and I will never again belong to the church so that word can never ever be part of me.
I can reclaim righteous. I can reclaim it much like I reclaimed the word sacred. Sacred was another word that for a long time I felt like could never belong to me because of my experiences with the church. Then I found my own truth around spirituality and realized my truth was sacred.
I do not know what reclaiming righteous will look like for me. I do know it will have nothing to do with Us vs. Them, and it will have nothing to do with religious doctrine. These thing I know, the rest is yet to be seen.
For now I found this and it felt true.