My dad was a rebel. I’m a bit of a rebel. I think it just kind of runs in the family. It’s part arrogance, part desire to be different and a dash of ignorance thrown in for good measure.
Sometimes rebellion is a good thing. Even needed. But most often if we’re honest with ourselves our rebellion isn’t really noble or even reasonable. Most of the time it’s downright, well, arrogant. We just don’t want to do it. Don’t want to say it. Don’t want someone else calling the shots. How dare they think of telling us what to do?!
Maybe it’s because we grow up watching movies and hearing the glorious stories of the American Revolution, but we think rebellion leads to freedom. I think there is a different reality most of us end up facing. Rebellion leads to pain. Even when you look at our forefathers in their act of revolution you realize they were very hesitant to rebel. They went to great lengths to try not to rebel. It was only when there was no other option that they took radical action.
My dad’s life could almost be written as a cautionary tale for this topic. He could never submit himself to a boss, his wife or even his own needs. And the end result is painful. But not just for him.
When we act like we are not accountable to anyone, eventually we are faced with a person, institution or circumstance that demands our humility. And we may think we can fight to the death in our arrogance because it only affects us. But like a King of a country or a president of a company, as we go so goes the lives of those we are in a relationship with. The consequences of our actions produce pain for everyone around us. Emotional, physical, financial, relational or spiritual. It does produce pain.
And most often, it is because we’re so focused on ourselves that we actually don’t realize that the rebellion is based on ignorance. When I rebel, it generally doesn’t come after I’ve taken an open mind to the problem, worked on understanding the other side of the fence and then intellectually decided it was time to rebel. Really. Normally it goes something more like this: something happens I don’t like. I get upset but realize I’m not getting what I want by pitching a fit. I rebel.
Our mistake begins with thinking the issue is all about us. But nothing…NOTHING…is ever just about us. Even when rebellion is the right choice, it creates pain for us and those around us. Our forefathers paid with their lives, material things and in some cases their family’s lives.
In trying to teach my boys how to be men, I realize that my rebellion is something much more dangerous than I thought. If I don’t want to pass on that attitude it can’t live in me. So the next time someone says no to me when I want them to say yes or I can’t have something I really wanted I’m going to try and remind myself in that moment that only in humility and submission to principles can I be a really good rebel.
(But please don’t ever say no to me. It’s just easier that way.)