Willing Obedience

A Mother once remarked to a Christian Scientist: "I do not know what to do with my girl. When she wants anything she wants it so terribly badly, I simply have not the heart to say 'No' to her." This is no uncommon case. There are many young people who want their own way very badly indeed, and many adults are unwise enough to give in to them. This leads to much unhappiness with the individual and in the home, for children are apt to want things and ways which do not lead to health and harmony.

It is wise to obey those in lawful authority over one, and habits of obedience can scarcely be learned too young, although a child who obeys against its will may learn even less perhaps than the young rebel who gets his own way and sometimes suffers severely in consequence. Mrs. Eddy knew well that it is sometimes best to let even grown-up students learn from their mistakes, and on this subject she has written (Message to The Mother Church for 1900, pp. 8, 9): "Learn to obey; but learn first what obedience is." And further, "I sometimes advise students not to do certain things which I know it were best not to do, and they comply with my counsel; but, watching them, I discern that this obedience is contrary to their inclination. Then I sometimes withdraw that advice and say: 'You may do it if you desire.' But I say this not because it is the best thing to do, but because the student is not willing—therefore, not ready—to obey."

The only real, progressive obedience springs from love; and when a child realizes that insubordination and disobedience cause pain to one he loves, he will be more ready to stop pitting his human will against his elders' wishes, and to start trying to regulate his life, with its many interests and desires, not by selfish will-power, but according to the rules of affectionate participation.

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An Ambassador for Truth and Love
October 7, 1933

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