Yesterday, while I was pondering the frightening ease of my training so far (which is a post for another day), He threw me a curve ball.
A friend sent me a note about an event they were helping with; they had received a ping that I perhaps should be involved. They weren’t certain it was for me, but when they told me the words – which included a nickname no one else ever, ever uses for me – I was certain. This friend has helped me many a time, and rarely asks for help in return. The event they were helping with would be an opportunity for Him to “show me off,” but He wasn’t requiring it.
The problem is that it overlaps an event for which I’m a board member, one which I’ve committed to for nearly three years. This event is the first community service I ever willingly did – including heavy participation in the public ritual, which I otherwise never do – and it constitutes time with my family, both blood and chosen. Being a family event, our youngest comes with us; it’s precious time together for us, as we all work together and play together at this one. It’s an event I love, with people I love, and a solid promise I’ve made.
The talk with Him was long, starting as soon as I walked out the door from my day job. W/we talked for the entire walk home, then for a while after I reached home, then took a break. I talked about it to Kit briefly that night, who was (understandably) not any happier than I was. I washed up early, sat before my altar, and talked with Him for a good while longer.
What made the decision so hard was that He wasn’t requiring it. It’s important to Him to show me off as His, and this event apparently is a very good opportunity. And I can’t say that I’m not curious about the event, and curious about the gathering within which it’s happening. But the decision was in my court, and His wants and my curiosity were running right up against a number of things – not only my wants, but also my promise to my community, time with my family, and a whole host of logistical challenges (one car, limited staff, and distance being just a few).
I love Him. I want to please Him. I don’t want to disappoint Him. But this is something I just can’t do. This is a promise I just can’t break. I told Him so. And His answer surprised me.
Good girl. Stand up. Breaking does not mean destroying. I am proud of you. I am not disappointed or upset. I love you.
I almost burst into tears, partly in relief and partly in dismay. The dismay was having to tell Him no, and a lingering fear of failing and disappointing Him. He assured me, over and over again, that He is not disappointed. I have offered to wear my collar at Midsummer and freely explain it to anyone who asks; He accepted this, and will ask something more of me at a later time. But He has made it clear: He is proud of me, proud of my decision.
It may seem odd; it certainly threw me for a loop. But after a good night of sleep and a gentle greeting from Him this morning, I’m feeling better. He is not angry; that’s not something He hides. And I have a few thoughts of what He was trying to do.
I have no doubt that He did want me to go. He stressed that it was important to Him, and while He can be sneaky, He has not yet lied. But putting the decision on me could have gone one of two ways. Saying yes would have pleased Him and offered me up to serve a community to which I am not accustomed, which would have been a good experience. But it would have meant breaking a promise, putting both event and family under considerable strain, and fostered resentment both in me and my family. Saying no means negotiating an exchange with Him and will leave me wondering “what if” for a little while, but it also means I keep the balance between relationships and fulfill my promise.
That is where I think the test was – and yes, I think there was a test hidden in all of this. Agreements are important to Him. By going down this path, I am agreeing to give over consent to Him. But He’s not looking for a mindless drone. I have spirit and backbone and a mind, and it’s something He has often reminded me. Yes, I will be a slave, not a spouse. Yes, I will be broken for Him. Yes, I will have to sacrifice for Him. Yes, I will submit to Him. But honoring a promise older than O/our current relationship is something He understands and respects. I will not lose His respect or love if I stand up for those vows – it seems, from this, that I will earn it. Thus the test: would I roll over in an effort to please Him, or would I stand up for the people I love and the promises I make? And if I stand up for them, will I offer an exchange or simply say no?
This time I stood up and offered the exchange, and He has stated without hesitation or reserve that He is proud of me for it. For that I thank Him. For that I love Him all the more. And for that I breathe a sigh of relief.