The Joy and Power of Obedience

Exploring the word obedience, as with many words in our language, it becomes apparent that we have modified the meaning of the word beyond recognition. Our current understanding is that obedience is in some way weak – a moment when we acquiesce to someone else’s command and give our power away. An online dictionary defines obedience as ‘compliance with an order, request or law, or submission to another's authority’.

However, if we come back to the here and now and the way we interpret what obedience means in our daily lives, we have to be honest and say that being obedient is not something we want to be or something we consider to be supportive. We are told to be obedient from a very young age: obedient to someone, something… often a set of church rules, school rules, family rules, respect your elders (inequality) rules, societal rules… the list is long.

There is no understanding as to why this obedience is mandatory and there is no consideration or respect for each other in the imposition of these rules; how often have we heard an adult say to a child, ‘because I said so’? Or in a church setting, the expectation that rules will be adopted without question because some power has said this is how it is done.

What is interesting is how this effectively silences our curiosity and natural propensity to question and explore life. Maybe this is why it is all designed as it is? If we consider how and where rules are made, they are often laid down at times when somebody, or some institution, wants to manage or control us to be a certain way.

We dare not disobey, having experienced the consequences, punishment and/or torture of doing so, and therefore end up in the same confinement as everyone else, bound by rules.

Far from this blind subservience, is it possible there is more to obedience than we currently realise? What if true obedience is a very empowered, connected and responsible way to live? What if obedience was not to blindly comply with rules and regulations, but a willingness to see ourselves as part of a grand, divinely designed plan that we are in responsive relationship with. In this way of obedience we could embrace the opportunities to serve, the opportunities to do whatever is needed, the opportunities to practise responding to this plan and confirm in everything we do the fact that we are all in this together.

So in this modern era, how do we re-claim and live true obedience, breaking through the belief that to be non-compliant with societal norms is dangerous?

If we suspend disbelief for a moment and consider that life is infused with divinity – something we may know as purity, truth, magic, harmony, love, inner knowing and/or God – and that we have a choice in every moment to align to this or not; that there is a divine impulse that we all know deep within us, then would we have the foundations needed to step out of the ‘rule trap’ and give ourselves permission to re-ignite our curiosity and explore what true obedience is?

When we come to understand, know and live the fact that we are all held in a divine plan, of equal value, aligned to one purpose and truth, then there is no questioning that there is a way of being obedient that is true to our inner truth and there is absolute joy in obedience to it.

When we claim back and live true obedience, as an honouring of who we are and what we feel called to do or be, we are activating our return to truth. Obedience is something magnificent and in line with our life’s purpose, redefining the responsibility we all have to ourselves and one another.

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  • By Matilda Bathurst, BSc Hons, RGN, RM, PGCE (Primary)

    A life enthusiast, nurturer and willing learner; mother, teacher, walker extraordinaire, registered midwife & nurse. Thriving into my elder years.

  • By Mary-Louise Myers, Women’s Health Practitioner

  • Photography: Cameron Martin, Video and Photography