Addy just turned 2, and she is fully exploring the power of the word “No.” I have been particularly amused by the times when she is offered something and responds with an immediate, adamant “NO!” only to turn around two seconds later and say “YES!” But I can’t judge this behavior or even blame it entirely on toddlerhood. I know that I can be prone to it, too, especially if I’m distracted, distressed, or otherwise disconnected from myself and my call. There is something very instinctual, very human, about resisting. We all experience a deep desire to push back at times.
Resistance is our Soul Matters theme this month. Most of the time the Soul Matters themes that unite us with other Unitarian Universalist around the world are clear virtues – love, beauty, hope, wonder. As UUs, we want to increase these in our lives and in the world. But resistance is a bit trickier!
There are things we are called to resist in this world, and we Unitarian Universalists have an inspiring tradition of doing so. From Hosea Ballou’s resistance against popular beliefs about hellfire and damnation to Martha and Waitstill Sharp’s resistance of Nazi evils in Europe, from our UU the Vote efforts to our Compassion for Campers outreach, UUs have always been involved in resisting oppression, injustice, isolation, and despair.
But we can also find ourselves resisting things that would serve us and the world: hope, commitment, connection, growth, and change. These are essential aspects of our call as Unitarian Universalists, and most of us would say we value them. Why, then, do we sometimes find ourselves resisting?
I think we adults sometimes resist that which we claim to value for the same reasons a 2-year-old does: a desire to assert and test our own power, a fear of the unknown, and scripted habit. It’s natural to want to feel in control, and saying “NO” is one of the most powerful ways we can claim control over our lives. It’s natural to be wary of new experiences, and saying “NO” can be protective. And it’s natural to fall into habits, including the habit of starting with “NO” even when we might actually want to say “Yes.”
As we explore the theme of resistance this month, what is it that we are called to resist, as individuals and as a community? And what resistance are we called to let go of? Is there some aspect of your life or of our congregation’s life together that is being held back by a perceived need for greater control, a fear of the unknown, or just a habit of unhelpful resistance? I invite you to think about these questions with me over the next few weeks.
Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation
This month we are exploring Resisting. If you want to explore that theme more, we invite you to the Soul Matters packet fill out this form. We will email you the packet.