Disobedience: Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

As a parent, I most often hear myself repeating the same instructions, “Hurry up,” “Leave your brother/sister alone,” or the ever-favorite, “Get off of the bed while I’m making it.” Other times, I’m saying bizarre things I never thought I’d hear myself say, such as, ” Get that Spider-Man out of the freezer,” “No, you can’t bring that rifle to church, ” or “Get your face out of your brother’s butt.”

But every once in a while, I say something that resonates with me. A few words that make me stop and re-examine them as you would a diamond in the sunlight, twisting it this way and that, examining it from all sides.

A couple of years ago, I escorted my teary, unhappy preschooler away from a store saying, “I can’t give you good surprises if you don’t obey.”

DisobedienceMy little girl had been lollygagging again, trailing off behind me and not coming when called. I can’t remember what surprise I had in mind for her, but whatever it was, she’d lost it before it’d ever been offered.

How often have I been denied God’s “good surprises” because I did not obey? How can I receive His gifts if I do not cooperate with His plan?

Like my daughter’s, my disobedience isn’t outright. Rarely do I refuse to comply. Instead, I lollygag. I let His words roll off my back while I fritter away time and opportunity and generally drift off, complacent in the hope that I won’t be left behind. There’s time yet to catch up.

It’s easy to dismiss my disobedience as procrastination. Maybe a little laziness. But, in truth, I’ve failed to obey.

Just as I saw clearly the natural consequences of my daughter’s disobedience, I see the natural consequences of a disobedient culture, one that has relegated God and His commandments to the sidelines. It’s easy to see how our collective rejection of God’s plan for sexuality has resulted in the rotted harvest we now reap in pervasive misogyny, rape, divorce, abortion, and so much more. (See Humana Vitae at 50.)

It’s more difficult – or maybe more uncomfortable – to examine my personal sins, connecting my disobedience to the rotted fruits in my life. The absence of those “good surprises.”

I don’t have a quick fix, although I think outright refusal to obey seems an easier problem to solve than the lukewarmness we know is repugnant to God. (Rev 3:15-16)

I think the fix is a long, slow one with plenty of backsliding and beginning again and again and again. One that involves prayer and fasting and a good, swift kick in the rear. And a reminder of this verse:

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.

 – Matthew 5:37

  • Which do you struggle with: outright disobedience or disobedience by apathy or sloth?
  • What have you said to children that you imagine God saying to you?

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4 thoughts on “Disobedience: Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

  1. This is so insightful! I love how you see God speaking to you through the ordinary events of your life, Carolyn. We all need to get better at that. God is constantly trying to teach us about Himself, ourselves, and how to be happy! Not only does God reveal who He is through our human nature, through our maleness and femaleness, but He also does so in a special way through the family. The Old Testament is full of stories about the Israelites (the people of God) drawing near to God and then falling away again. And again. And again. When they draw near and follow His will, they are blessed. And when they turn to false gods and self-indulgence, they receive a punishment and a ton of suffering….which is designed to lead to repentance.

    We parents are to do the same with our children: rewards and consequences that lead them to know themselves, to know Our Lord better, and that prepare them to receive the wonderful gifts of God. Thanks for this beautiful post! You’ve inspired me!

    • Thanks for your kind words! I’ve always struggled with a little resentment toward people who always hear God “talking” to them. That doesn’t happen to me. As in almost never. (Separate blog post someday.) But that doesn’t mean He’s not using other means, which you point out – family being a big one. Our family can perfect us in so many ways if we let it.

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