Don’t tell me what to do!

I don’t like people telling me what to do. I don’t know when it started, because all my growing up years I was a good little girl always doing what I was told. However, I do remember myself as having a clear sense of what I wanted and then going out after it. For instance, although my parents had little schooling themselves and not much money, I knew I wanted to go to university and had no doubt that I would go––and I did. I have also had a strong attachment to “my way,” which, of course, is “the right way!” Strong-minded, or strong-willed, you might say. Stubborn? I prefer to think of myself as “determined”!

Last evening, James and I were seeking guidance on some decisions we had to make, including what to do about the coming weekend. Although I have received a lot of guidance in my life, it seems to be reserved mainly for the bigger things, not the day-to-day details. So, last evening, not surprisingly, I heard nothing. James shared with me the sense he got about what to do about the weekend, and I instantly felt resistance rise up in me––although at that moment, I couldn’t identify why.

I decided to talk to Jesus about it, so I picked up my journal, and as I wrote I realized that the main reason the resistance had arisen so quickly was simply because I don’t like being told what to do and I perceived James as doing that. The secondary reason was because I didn’t want to do what I felt he was telling me I should do, and I felt trapped, even angry.

When I asked for guidance and heard nothing at all, I felt really discouraged and hopeless. As I have written before, I have a strong need to know, and not knowing is a scary place for me to be. So, I decided to talk to Jesus about guidance. I know that the Holy Spirit is always speaking to me, always wanting to communicate to me all that He knows for me, and so I feel puzzled and frustrated when I don’t hear anything––even when I am sure that I do want to hear. For the past few days, I had been asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to me whatever was blocking my hearing, so that I could, with His help, look at it and let go of it. I wasn’t even hearing a response to that!

So I asked Jesus about why I wasn’t hearing God’s answer to my call, 1) to hear Him, and 2) to reveal to me why I wasn’t hearing Him?!  After all, He does promise that He will answer every call we make to Him, so how come I wasn’t hearing anything?! I knew it must be something in me that was blocking His answer.

Then it hit me:

If I don’t want James or anyone else to tell me what to do, perhaps I don’t want You to tell me what to do as well!

It’s no news that we resist the Holy Spirit’s guidance because we’re afraid it will ask sacrifice of us and tell us to do what we don’t want to do, so this shouldn’t have been such a big revelation for me, but it was. Realizing the connection with my not wanting people in my life to tell me what to do––about anything––was huge. It showed me in a very direct way that this is exactly what I’ve been doing with God: “Don’t tell me what to do, first of all because I don’t like being told what to do by anyone, and second of all because what You tell me to do may not be what I want to do.”

To get back to what to do about the weekend: I realized that I was asking for guidance, but I really “knew” what I wanted to do and what was best for me, although I was having a hard time admitting that and using it as my basis for decision. So, even though I thought I was asking, I really wasn’t. I wasn’t asking an honest question, one that first, would acknowledge that I really didn’t know what was for the best (for everyone, not only me!) and next, that would indicate that my mind was open to being told. (You know, just then when I wrote, “told” I even felt a twinge and almost substituted the word “taught.” Being taught is quite acceptable whereas being told is not. That’s a pretty clear indication of the level of my resistance!)

The irony––or the divine orchestration––is that this has come in the midst of our completing an intense journey through “The Characteristics of God’s Teachers” in our Manual class. Both of the last two characteristics, faithfulness and open-mindedness, relate directly to what I realized last evening. Being faithful involves consistently turning over all decisions to the Holy Spirit, leaving nothing to settle on our own and thus keep apart from healing. Being open-minded means admitting we don’t know and then opening our minds to being taught by the Holy Spirit; opening our minds to accepting His true perception and His guidance; essentially being open to being shown the truth.

This was an amazingly powerful and hard-hitting insight for me. Here I am, thinking that I truly do want to live a guided life. I suffer whenever I don’t hear guidance. Yet a part of me definitely mustn’t want to. On one level I know that only the Holy Spirit knows what’s in my best interests and will guide me only to that, yet on another level I think I do know what I want and what’s best for me, and it’s that I want to do. I think this was a watershed moment for me. It brought Course theory to life as I saw it translate into a totally lived experience.

With this new insight about the depth of my resistance to God, something has been rekindled in me. I feel re-motivated to actually becoming more faithful and open-minded in letting the Holy Spirit take His rightful place in my mind, and I have come up with a new prayer. It’s based on a statement from the “Development of Trust” in the Manual and on a prayer Jesus gave Helen (the “miracle prayer [that] is the door that leads out of the desert forever”)

Dearest God;

Help me learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what I really want in every circumstance.

I want to learn to do only what I am supposed to do.

If you will tell me what to do,

Only that I will to do.

P.S. About the weekend: Having had this realization relaxed and opened me to making a loving decision, which ended up meeting the needs of all of us who were involved and led to a lovely joining.

Love,  Mary Anne