Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Give me a set of rules and I will most certainly follow them. Hit me with the guidelines and I can move forward.
I am what many would categorize as a “rule-follower.” I thrive in the black and white, the clear directions, and the exact playbook. I will follow the rules, often without question, because it is easy. It’s easy to wait for the crosswalk light to tell me to walk. It is easy to stay outside of the lake if I’m not supposed to swim in it. It is easy to park inside of the allotted lines.
But, there’s one thing that gets tricky with rules: they are usually easy, but sometimes they’re not right. It’s easy to follow along blindly and set off on my merry way, but what happens when I stop to think about each rule that I follow?
There are rules that are helpful. There are rules that have no purpose. There are rules that are annoying. These rules might not bring joy, but they probably won’t hurt anyone if I follow them.
The rules that really cause me to struggle are the ones that hurt others. There are some rules that oppress and wound and damage those around me.
I can move forward following every rule without question and that might work for awhile, but if I never question any rule, a little voice inside of me starts gently piping up. The voice asks me who am I helping? The voice asks me why this rule? The voice wonders what the purpose of the rule may be?
As a rule follower, these questions are hard to entertain. Questioning any rule feels dangerous and problematic for my black-and-white soul. Yet, digging a little deeper in my soul, I find a more important rule: to love my neighbor at all costs. This rule drives me forward and gives me the fuel I need to refuse blind submission and invite an eye of criticism into my rule following.
I like the idea of loving my neighbor at all costs, but the part of that rule for life that makes me squeamish is the “at all costs” component. “All costs” can be hard. It can mean lost privileges. It can mean lost resources. It can mean lost respect and lost friendships.
It can mean I might have to break the rules to love well on occasion.
But, loving my neighbor is a necessary rule for my soul to thrive, so I push beyond the potential losses and try to consider each rule that I adhere to. Does each rule make my neighbor feel loved? If it doesn’t, how can I respectfully and kindly disagree with the rule in a way that loves my neighbor?
I have to remind myself over and over again to examine the rules I follow. I want to love boldly and deeply and courageously. Some days courage looks like acting outside of the rules to show love, even when every bone in my body urges me to stick to the rule book.
Now, here’s my point, I think it is respectful to submit to authority most of the time, but if I follow blindly without thinking about my actions, I may inadvertently hurt my neighbor. Let’s follow the rules most of the time, but remember that a goal of loving those around us can be deterred if we follow every rule blindly.
Hi, I'm Emma!
A Maryland girl who moved to Washington state seeking adventure, I adore writing and delight in sharing my favorite things. I celebrate whimsy and you can find me doing a happy dance when something really strikes my fancy.