Most if not all of us battle with the tension between our own desires, our deep sense of what’s most true, our certain knowing of what is best-right-wise and how that will impact the people around us. It is rebellious to choose ourselves in the midst of so much pressure to conform, to comply, to be perfect, to put others first.
A woman’s rebellion is disruptive, radical, uncomfortable, counter-cultural, even counter-intuitive. Ironically (even gratefully), a woman’s rebellion is the very thing that invites her into a life that is authentic, integrous, sovereign, and whole; a life that is sacred.
For us to be ourselves (in a world that demands we be so much less) means we will inevitably feel the pain of disruption and discomfort both within and without. This tension, this bind, is untenable and frustrating and heart-breaking.
To step fully into who we are — unrestrained, unhindered, unleashed — should NOT be so hard! It should NOT require our rebellion.
But it does. Not just once, but over and over and over again.
And so . . .
Let’s make rebellion a spiritual practice.
The common definition of a spiritual practice is a specific activity one does to deepen their relationship with the sacred.
Contemplative and activist, Father Richard Rohr says, “Practice is an essential reset button that we must push many times before we can experience any genuine newness. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are practicing all the time. When we operate by our habituated patterns, we strengthen certain neural pathways, which makes us, as the saying goes, ‘set in our ways.’ But when we stop using old neural grooves, these pathways actually die off! Practice can literally create new responses and allow rigid ones to show themselves.”
Most of us practice just the opposite of rebellion. Instead, as mentioned above, our “habituated patterns” are conformity, compliance, perfectionism, and putting others priorities-and-desires-and-perspectives above our own. The result is just the opposite, as well: instead of deepening our relationship with the sacred, we feel distanced from it.
Rebellion as a spiritual practice has the potential to undo every bit of this. It calls us to boldly name that which separates us from all that is sacred (which, quite frankly, is every message culture promulgates and demands via capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and then some), and reconnects us to our very selves, our sacred selves.
- When the world says I am not enough, rebellion as a spiritual practice says, “No! I AM enough — exactly as I am, nothing more required, fully divine, fully sovereign.”
- When social media incessantly urges me to buy, to acquire, to continue scrolling (instead of creating or resting or any number of things that would actually restore instead of exhaust me), rebellion as a spiritual practice has me set down my phone, walk away, and distance myself from the lies.
- When the person I am in relationship with passive-aggressively demands that I meet and exceed every expectation — even and especially when it is at odds with my own priorities and desires — rebellion as a spiritual practice says “No!” yet again. The dissonance and tension is the very evidence I need to stay the course.
- When the god of whom I’ve learned deals more in shame than grace, rebellion as a spiritual practice, imagines a god who would never think of such a thing, who sees me as practically perfect in every way, who delights in who I am, exactly as I am, right now and always.
- When I feel the pressure to do more, work harder, hustle faster, grind and grind and grind — no matter the cost to my mental, emotional, or physical well-being — rebellion as a spiritual practice is an intentional choice to step back, to step away, to take a bath or a nap or both, to be quiet, to stop running in order to feel productive, validated, or worthy.
- When the voice inside my head tells me I’m being selfish to do any of the above, rebellion as a spiritual practice is the disciplined intention to listen to my heart instead, to choose myself, to see myself as worthy, to trust the know-that-I-know-that-I-know voice within.
“If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.”
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés
“A rebel! How glorious the name sounds when applied to a woman. Oh, rebellious woman, to you the world looks in hope.”
~ Matlida Joslyn Gage (1826–1898)
Here is what I hope for you (and me):
When we rebel, when we bravely resist all that holds us back or down, when we are incorrigible and defiant, when we willingly step into the flames of disruption and discomfort — not to burn, but to blaze — we cannot possibly be closer to the sacred.
And that, it seems to me, is a practice worth . . . well, practicing!
May it be so.
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