But they say, “It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.” – Jeremiah 18:12 (NRSVUE)
Toddlers. Teenagers. Tyrants. These are some of the categories of human existence that first come to mind when I read this verse. Jeremiah the prophet is in conversation with God, who warns that if the people don’t get their acts together, there will be dire punishment not just for individuals who transgress but for the whole community. I will show them my back, not my face, says God. There have been plenty of opportunities to make things right, but here we can see the divine head shaking slowly, side to side, discouraged and frustrated. They’re going to follow their own will, no matter what.
Toddlers. Teenagers. Tyrants. Sure. But also ordinary, average people who consider themselves mature, in charge. People caught in traffic. A woman running errands at the mall, or a guy surfing the internet. An executive considering what move to make next. An adult with power over a child. A religious leader counseling a vulnerable person.
You, and me, too.
How often do we follow our will, not God’s? So often it barely rises to the level of a conscious thought. Multiply this by a community, by a country, to see how far out of relationship we can fall. This story of people thousands of years ago feels right on time.
What choices lie ahead of me today that ask for discernment? How do I recognize when the stubborn-as-heck will that is winning is mine?
And how do we break the cycle?
Take a time out. Ground ourselves. Give back the power that was never really ours.
Holy One, not my (stubborn as heck) will be done, but yours. Amen.