Obligation Is Suffocation

Man on beach intentionally presence obligation is suffocation

I recently felt obligated to give my presence.  I didn’t want to go.  I had to go, or so I thought.  As long as I was committed to going, a dark cloud of obligation loomed over me everywhere I went.  It felt as though my entire body was cumbered with 10 lead, dental x-ray vests.  I did not feel free.

It took me a while, but I finally gave myself the freedom to say no… three hours before the event.  While I don’t think this was the most responsible way to say no to obligation, I still felt an immediate inner release.  The 10 lead, dental x-ray vests were exchanged for 1 white, linen summer dress.  I felt free to be me.

There is a responsible way of saying “no” to obligations, which includes keeping true to your word.  It is always best to say no in the beginning, when up front you know you don’t feel called to go.  The longer obligation builds, the heavier it hangs.  It would have felt like 1 lead, dental x-ray vest had I said “no” a little bit sooner, but there would have been a white, linen summer dress all along had I said no from the beginning.

It is best to say no to obligation and be up front with it.  I’m talking about the obligation that pulls you like a little puppet, putting you in places you don’t want to be and doing things you don’t feel called by God to do.  This kind of obligation makes you a puppet that dances to the likes of someone else instead of God and yourself.

It is the cutting of puppet strings that severs us from the people pleasing dance.  This release from unhealthy obligation untangles your body from the muck of stress.  Being kind to the desires in your heart tells your heart’s valves to beat that lubb dubb with gladness.  Forcing yourself to do something you don’t feel called to do ties up your soul, and binds you into something you are not.

When you feel obligated to give the gift of your presence, try to identify what it is inside of you that makes you feel so bound to say, “Yes, I will be there” when everything in your heart screams otherwise and you’d rather be at home scrubbing the mold off your bathroom wall (this actually crossed my mind as a better alternative).  It is crucial that we recognize what it is inside of us that makes us feel like we have to be fakers.

God calls us to give with a cheerful heart, and that is what I want to do when I give others the gift of my presence.  I want to present myself, where I want to be, with a cheerful heart, glad that I am there.

Giving the gift of your presence out of obligation is never a gift.  A true gift of presence, is always given out of love. Giving your presence because you want to give it.  Not because your presence is required or expected but because you want to give it. It is this giving your presence with a cheerful heart, that counts as a true gift and is able to bless not only others but also your body.

There is a suffocating death choke that comes from giving your presence out of snarly obligation. It cuts off life and desire and heart and being you.

How can you grace others with the gift of your presence? 

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2 Responses

  1. Beth

    wonderfully written and thoughtful piece, Archer. you’ve figured out relatively early what many people take much longer, or not at all, to understand. :))


    Dr. Archer

    Hi Beth — Thanks so much for your reply! There’s so much more to obligation than this! It is a hard lesson to learn.


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