Anyone who has children or has ever been a child is well acquainted with stubbornness. Although stubbornness and determination could be considered two sides of one coin, stubbornness has a less-than-positive connotation. We’re all familiar with the shouted “No!” accompanied by the stamp of a foot and the scowl on a small face. We hope that as we mature, our stubbornness mellows into determination as we learn to choose our battles and dedicate ourselves to the causes that matter. But stubbornness can rear its head when we feel powerless in a situation, when someone wants us to do one thing and we are inclined to do another (sometimes ANY other), and the only recourse we have is to grab onto our position with our teeth and refuse to let go.
But what do we do when that someone is God? I would like to think that if I ever heard the actual voice of God telling me to do something, I would set down my pride and my stubbornness and be obedient. But I know myself too well. “How can I be certain that’s really you?” I would ask, and I would need some kind of a sign because heaven knows I wouldn’t want to deviate from my own wandering-in-the-wilderness path on unreliable information. I like to think that I have a modicum of faith, surely a mustard seed’s worth, but really, in the times I’ve been tested I’ve usually felt as if I got moved by the mountain instead of the other way around. So I have to wonder how hard I am listening for God’s voice if I am pretty sure I would ignore it even if I heard it.
Like many of my friends, I stayed home to raise my child, intending to return to the outside working world “someday.” Now that my daughter is nearly grown (I say nearly because she is a college student, and I think that puts her in that weird zone between childhood and true adulthood), I have been pondering what I am good for. A 15-month stint in a data and call center convinced me that I don’t belong there, doing the same thing every minute of every day with two short breaks and a half hour for lunch. After dedicating my life to the important work of raising another person from helpless infant to productive member of society (and, though I don’t take the credit, a wonderful, talented, intelligent young woman who wants to make her own mark on the world), I just can’t dig up much enthusiasm for helping some company make more money. It’s hard to figure out how to transfer my gifts and talents from a relationship-based world to an output-based one, and I’m not sure I even want to try. But there’s a nagging little voice inside my head that tells me I should be contributing to the household income, building our savings back up, getting ready for the next economic meltdown or the next layoff or the next whatever dramatic event nearly wipes us out. So I start getting nervous.
My prayer is that God would reveal to me what I am, what He made me to be at this stage of my life. And, like a lot of people, I look for signs and try to listen for His voice, hoping that one day it will just hit me: oh, right, THAT’s what I should be doing; why didn’t I see it before? Maybe I’m just dense, but it’s not happening. Am I being stubborn? Is God trying to break through all the noise in my head to tell me what to do, where to go, but I’ve already decided that I couldn’t possibly do whatever that is or go wherever He’s pointing because, well, I’m just not capable? There’s an old saying: God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. But is He calling me? And if He is, to what? Maybe it’s to a season of regrouping, of immersing myself in His word and in prayer, getting back to the basics of a closer relationship. Could it be that simple? Why would I resist? Because I am stubborn. I don’t like the not knowing. All I really want is to KNOW. I want to know what the goal is and how I’m supposed to get there, step by step. I want to know what obstacles to expect along the way so I can plan for them. I want plan B and plan C and whatever other contingency plans I’ll need. I want a straight path with no unpleasant surprises. I want. I want. I WANT! Boy, am I stubborn.
Does God not care what I want? Sure, He does. But when I’m honest, I know that it’s more important that He cares what is best for me. That means that I should be able to be confident that whatever happens, if I allow Him to, God will use it for my benefit. If only I can get past my stubbornness and my pride and my fear, maybe I can just take a step in any direction and it will be okay because I am not alone. The God of the universe is with me. Where might we go together?