Tests of Obedience: Another “Christian” Concept that Still Plagues Me
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Separation.
Maybe it was too many Southern Baptist ministers who preached that women must “submit” and “obey” their husbands. Maybe it was having big brothers so much older than me who would tickle-torture me if I didn’t do comply with their bellowed orders to “Obey me!” In any case, something turned me against the idea of “obedience” and testing when I was very young.
That’s not saying that I wasn’t an obedient child. My father was never known to spare the rod. Ever.
And if I should ever marry again, I’ll probably leave out the love-honor-obey thing again, too. Unless my guy wants to take that vow himself! Okay, I joke about it, but if he has to “obey” rather than do something for me because he wants to, I don’t really want his “obedience.” That would feel more like raping him emotionally.
I recently did something I really didn’t want to do. My closest friends worried about my decision to do it and worried, too, about my physical safety and emotional security. My friends who weren’t quite as close told me I was a fool to do it.
After it was over with, a Christian friend said she interpreted it as a test of obedience. Would I do something I felt God wanted me to do even though I didn’t want to do it?
It’s funny what that word brought up for me. Obedience. A test of obedience. As a convert from Christianity to Wicca, the idea of a “test of obedience” has such negative connotations.
And yet, my Wiccan friends have similar feelings but more palatable (to me) words. They call it a “challenge” instead of a “test.” (I don’t know—tests always remind me of red ink and my little straight-A eyes scanning a returned test paper in utter stomach-knotting terror to glean a single red minus that might disappoint my mommy and daddy!)
No matter how hard it was or how much I didn’t want to do it, I still felt that Spirit was leading me to do this thing. Leading. Not pushing. Not requiring. I still had a choice. I still could have said no and it would have been okay. The situation would have resolved with someone else’s involvement, not mine. If I did it, there were lessons there for me. If I declined, there were lessons there for me.
But I had the feeling that following through with what I was asked to do would be good in some way, that I would be protected, that all would be well. I definitely felt the hand of Spirit in it, taking me in that direction if I chose to go.
So was it a test of obedience or a challenge of my faith in connection with Spirit?
The outcome was the same—it’s all in the way it’s interpreted. Hmmm, just like I believe most religions go back to the same Higher Power but it’s interpreted differently.
I guess in that sense the past three months of my life have been a “challenge”. 🙂
I like the idea of being “led”, and think it’s more than a semantic difference. Obedience brings up connotations of being ordered or demanded – and, more woefully, of being punished if we disobey. I see the Universe/Goddess as “poking gently”, nudging us back onto the path we were meant to follow. The only “punishment” was karmic: if I had kept going down the same path, I wouldn’t feel as content and at peace with my decisions as I do today.