Stages of Spiritual Development: Rebellion Saves Lives

Rebellion Saves Lives: How acts of disobedience preserve the real you.

I loathe meetings. Most meetings bore the crap out of me and make me want to stand up and scream. Several years ago, when I worked as a university professor, I rebelled and stopped going to departmental faculty meetings. I did this out of principle and self preservation. My department housed a handful of bullies who made it their pet project to stop my creative work and shame me publicly. They dissed everybody, but especially me. So my rebellion protected me from the weekly dose of political poison that had been making me sick.

I got in trouble with the dean. I promised to take on more work than was my fair share, if only I could stay away from those toxic meetings. He didn’t understand. He tried to coerce me back into the room, every Tuesday for at least two hours, with people who wanted me to fail or die or disappear. I tried to comply. But every meeting brought some sickness: a spasm in my back, a serious fall, pneumonia that would not clear…

To sum up a long story, I quit. I walked away from a tenured position and a regular paycheck. I could no longer be true to myself and function in that environment. Friends and colleagues gasped in astonishment. “You did what????” they said.

“I did what had to be done.”

…I saved my life. When I try to imagine what it would’ve been like to comply with the college dean, I get knots in my stomach and I start to hyperventilate. At the very least, I saved my soul and my spinal column.

Keep the rebellion front and center. You need it to survive.

Think for a moment about the opposite, obedience. What does obedience mean to you? What emotions does it conjure? For me, obedience evokes tension, a sense of anger mingled with shame, a cocktail of disappointed looks and the need to hide or be perfect. Obedience makes me want to fight back or stray or run far away. Obedient servant. Obedient child. Obey your parents, your master, the law of the land. Conform to the wishes of someone in authority. Resist your urges, your impulses. Sacrifice your needs. Suppress your feelings and your unruly ideas.

Okay, I know. Civilized society requires some mutual agreement to obey the rules. I get that. Some following, some suppression. I’m glad my fellow drivers stop at red lights. And I’m not talking about anything mean or morally corrupt. Nothing destructive or cowardly. Nothing underhanded or dishonest.

I mean the kind of nuanced rebellion that helps you survive your situation. The kind of disobedience that forces you to grow. Rebellion as an act of faith. Disobedience as a form of prayer. Misbehavior as meditation. Intentional. Bold. Unscripted.

Let go the sacred cow. Unbridle your crazy notions. Speak the unspeakable. Walk away from destructive forces. Turn the dining room into your art studio. Take a leap and quit your boring job. Take boxing lessons. Say NO to meetings that give you cramps.

For more blog posts about how Healthy Rebellion helps you take steps to positive stages of spiritual development, click here:

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