I have something to confess. Obedience is a hard word for me. The word conjures up feelings of being controlled; of dutifully doing something that I don’t want to do. To me it can imply sacrifice and giving up my own wants and desires for the sake of something or someone else. It can feel limiting. There is something deep within me that has a hard time embracing obedience. Because when I embrace obedience and allow myself to submit, it means that I might not get what I want. That I might have to give up control.
But I’ve learned that there is so much freedom in obedience. When I give up my will and my need to control (my need for others to be obedient to me), it allows for space. It allows me to unclench my fists and hold them out for what I might receive. It allows me to dream and wonder how I can serve God, rather than be weighed down and enslaved to laws and commandments.
God’s laws and commandments are created for our flourishing and an abundant life. They aren’t meant to be punitive.
These days, much of my time is spent around college students who are in the throes of decision-making: what major to declare, what to do during summer break, what job to take, or where to move after graduation. Inevitably, there will be a point when the options become apparent and they say that they want to follow God and be obedient to where God is leading them in the next season, but they don’t always know what that is. And I can relate — too often we can get caught up on wanting to obey yet having fears about what it will look like or where it will lead us.
“God, I will follow you, just tell me where to go!” or, in some cases, “God, make this happen!”
So, as well, too often I need to remind myself that obedience can mean freedom. It gives me freedom so that when faced with multiple good choices, I don’t have to be paralyzed in thinking that one will lead to an abundant life and one will lead to destruction and the lonely wilderness. They might be both incredible, missional opportunities where God is uniquely at work. This means, I can spend my time assessing if my skill set can be better used here, or there. It asks me to look at the bigger picture of things. It asks me what I can receive and give, rather than demand. And yes, there can be sacrifice. But as I am obedient (loving God and doing my best to keep God’s commandments), I can be confident that the sacrifice is worth it and I will continue to walk into a good and abundant life.
Obedience is a spiritual practice that helps me to experience the Divine more fully and God’s abundance more exquisitely in my life. It helps to soothe my enneagram 9 self to be able to remind myself that decision making doesn’t have to be paralyzing or challenging; it can be joyful and exciting!
Kristen currently serves as the Director of Community Care. In this role, she walks alongside people experiencing transition and disruption and considers it a joy to be invited into these beautiful sacred spaces in people’s lives.
Additionally, Kristen works with college students in an experiential learning program in San Francisco as they learn to integrate vocation, calling, faith and self.
Connect with Kristen: firstname.lastname@example.org