Is Obedience A Thing?

One time, while in basic training at Ft. McClellan Alabama, I was in a class learning how to use and clean some equipment. The instructor told us that when we were finished we should line up so he could inspect our equipment, then we were free to go back to the barracks.

I finished before most people, so I got up and went to the bathroom. When I came back, almost everyone in the class was already in line. The line was long and slow, but I took my place at the end. Looking at the front of the line, I noticed my best friend motioning me to come get in front of her so we would both be done quickly at the same time. I hesitantly walked past all the people and stepped in line in front of my smiling friend.

Once in line, I snickered and shrugged my shoulders and said -to no one in particular, “I know I’m not supposed to cut in line.” Then I heard a voice from somewhere in line behind me, “Then why did you do it?”

I turned to look and saw that the question came from a girl some of us referred to as a ‘goodie-two-shoes.’ At the end of our training, that girl received more honors and awards than anyone in my platoon.

I used to think about this a lot. Not so much about the girl, or the fact that I cut in line when I was 18 years old, but the fact that I made a habit in my life of doing what I was not supposed to do or doing things that were not good for me. I seemed to do the opposite of what I ‘should’ be doing in many circumstances. In the throes of my anxiety I would ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”

This is where obedience comes in. I used think being obedient was all about listening to someone else. Then I heard a sermon by Joel Osteen.  In it he says, “Uncommon obedience brings uncommon blessings.” He is referring to what it takes to discern the will of God. And although that subject is not the focus of this blog, I love his advice, which is: look inside yourself, pay attention to your feelings, to that little voice that seems much smaller than the voices of all those around you. Trust your instincts.

This is what I was missing all those years ago, but what the girl who questioned me had. That is, she had a confidence in herself that she knew what the right thing was and chose to be obedient to her inner voice. And she was rewarded for that.

By cutting in line, I didn’t break a law or hurt anyone, but in not listening to my conscience, I violated my own values. It was a small thing, but it made it easier to do that again and again, until I lost sight of my inner self.

So, what does this have to do with overcoming overeating?  Didn’t I try to be obedient and not over eat?

Yes, I did. But I failed year after year because my obedience was not pointed in the right direction. In trying to follow the advice of others, I overlooked my own needs and desires.  I didn’t trust myself or my instincts around food.  This eroded my confidence and made me question my value.

I had to learn to eat what I really desired and listen to my body, trusting that it wouldn’t let me binge or overeat on a regular basis. Being obedient in this way is the foundation of eating normally without having to worry about what to do when faced with chocolate cake.

Many people spend their whole lives trying to eat right, only to be thwarted by an unexpected box of donuts sitting on the conference table when they enter a meeting. If you live your life monitoring everything you eat and telling yourself you are ‘bad’ when you eat a high fat, high sugar food, you will always be on the brink of  ‘doing the wrong thing.’

I didn’t want to live this way any longer. But I couldn’t figure out how to escape from the destructive cycle until I did one thing.  And that was -eat food, any food I wanted, with absolutely no guilt. And I don’t mean eating it mindlessly, I mean savoring every bite. It’s not easy at first. The thoughts of dieting tomorrow or running an extra lap will seep into your consciousness. But with practice, you can learn to eat, not only for nourishment, but enjoyment.

You can learn to give yourself permission to eat the cookies, the chips, and the cake. In the process you learn that these things don’t hold a spell over you and that you really don’t choose to eat them most of the time. As you become obedient to yourself, cravings cease. You begin to respect yourself and realize your inherent value. You learn to discern what to be obedient to, and then you reap the rewards.

Learn more – Bingefree- The Beginning

Bingefree- First Steps

4 thoughts on “Is Obedience A Thing?

  1. I love this idea of learning what to be obedient to. That seems so right to me. As I have been practicing intuitive eating, I have begun to hear my authentic true voice that says stuff like, “It’s cool to eat a cookie, and you can eat as much as you want, but you want to run, too, and too many cookies make it hard for you to run.” This voice inside me is really wise, and I am loving learning to listen to it.

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    1. So glad you are on the intuitive eating path. That is where my journey began. It has morphed into something a little different, but that’s the beauty of listening to ourselves -all of our paths will be unique, and that’s okay! Thanks for reading!


  2. You’re so right, Merri – when we obediently try to follow other people’s rules around eating, we ignore that little voice within us who knows how we truly want to eat and what’s best for us. How lovely it is to connect to that voice! I kind of worry about the “goodie-two-shoes” in this world, though, as I think that often they’ve been taught from a young age to be so compliant that they struggle with autonomy and can’t bear it if anyone else steps outside the rules. Not always, of course, but certainly for some. Really thought-provoking post, thank you.

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    1. I agree with you about the typical “goodie-two-shoes’. In my article, I meant to say that this girl was only given that name by my friends because they were jealous of her leadership abilities, I don’t think I made that clear. Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments as well as reading your blog! Have a great weekend!

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