Jeremiah 7:23-24. But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.
On some occasions, stubbornness is a natural and healthy way for us to figure out our way in the world. There was a small hill in the backyard of my childhood home that led out into a field. When it came time for me to learn how to ride a bike, my father insisted that thrusting me down this hill shouting “Now pedal! Now pedal!” was the best way for me to learn how to ride. Nonetheless, after numerous tumbles and multiple bruises, I threw up my hands in despair and told my father to go inside; I was going to teach myself how to ride a bike. I did so within the hour.
When our stubbornness is an attempt to put ourselves in God’s place, however, we can easily fall victim to several follies: selfishness, ignorance, and mistrust to name a few. These isolating behaviors can be gateways to even greater offences like violence, addictions, or the exploitation of others. And yet, God yearns for us to live in loving communities that courageously—not selfishly—cross boundaries. The voice of God may not always be easy to hear and follow, but that’s why God gifted us with the Church. When we walk together, we not only gain perspective but we also gain life. The anxieties of the world can become a little less threatening and a little less deafening. So let’s take one step together. And then, perhaps, another.
—Sarah Butler Ginolfi