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My son is a high school senior, and as he navigates all the activities and programs that come with senior year, I have noticed he has one of my best and worst traits.
He is stubborn.
My mother gifted me with the same prayer all parents gift their children when they find out a grandchild is on the way — the prayer that the child will turn out to be just like them. Apparently, Mom knew how to make sure her prayers reached Heaven.
Stubbornness looks like determination when we’re doing something positive, like completing assignments against overwhelming obstacles or pursuing our purpose even when we are not understood. We’re praised and applauded for our tenacity in those tough places. Our strong wills are lauded.
But our stubbornness can also hurt us, especially when we choose to do things our own way instead of listening and waiting for God’s direction. Often, once we hear from God, we decide it’s easier and will be more fulfilling to do what we want. And for a while, it may be.
It catches up with us eventually, though. God will put us in a position where we realize our lack of faith in God’s sovereignty, His direction, is at the root of our stubbornness and has caused chaos not only in our lives, but also in the lives of others. No matter the situation, there are people attached to you who also are dependent on your obedience to the will of God.
You don’t just wreck yourself when you don’t check yourself.
For years, I did good work that wasn’t God work. No person could necessarily fault me for the work I did or the time and effort I put into it, but it did not align with God’s will for my life. Even if no one else knew it, I did. I consumed myself with busyness in the hopes of drowning out God’s voice.
But God’s voice, God’s words, created the whole world. It cannot be drowned out. It will come to us at work, with our friends, during worship or in the middle of the night. Being stubborn against the will of God is exhausting. There is energy in changing course when the creation decides to run into the embrace and safety of the Creator.
I pray that God uses our determination to help build His kingdom on Earth, and delivers us from the stiff-necked ways that threaten to bind us. I pray He uses our tenacity to go into all those dirty, ugly, dark places with love, understanding, grace and the light of God and frees us from our human tendency to run toward our own pursuits.
As I look at my son and think about the bright future ahead for him, I pray that he is both tough and teachable. I pray to improve the example I continue to set for him. And I pray that, years down the road, my grandchildren are the beneficiary of our persistence and our malleability.
LaMonique Hamilton blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.