The Big Fight: Stubbornness vs. Determination

I’ve realized something about myself lately. I’m pretty stubborn. Obstinate. Bullheaded. Strong-willed. Pigheaded. Headstrong. Thick-headed. (Feel free to include your own synonym here.) This really wasn’t a “light bulb over the head” moment for me since I’ve always been this way. According to our family heritage, it comes with the territory. “You’re bullheaded just like your daddy.” Lately, though, it seems to be getting worse. So I’m going to blame it on getting older. Gotta blame it on something, right?

And now a fight has begun within me between stubbornness and determination. Some may say they’re pretty similar so how could a fight be happening. Well, I’m about to enlighten you with the differences…

STUBBORNNESS…
You see, I feel like the Lord wants to do some work in my life – something deep. But I’m being stubborn and not letting Him do what He wants. I know I’m being stubborn, because there are certain actions I need to take and frankly, I just plain don’t want to do them. I’m basically putting up a fight. Why, you ask? Haven’t got a clue. Wait, that’s not entirely true. If I had to be honest with myself – and we rarely are – it would be fear. Because when the Lord gets into our stuff, it can be painful and usually requires some changes on our part.

Do you remember as a child when your mom asked you to do something? It was probably something like cleaning your room or washing the dishes. And remember what you most likely did? At least if you’re like most kids! Me? I would say, “Yeah, in a minute.” After about 30 or so of those minutes, I would finally hear this, “Daddy, get after Pam to do the dishes!” Okay…so that was the fire needed under my backside to get my lazy body to make its way to the kitchen!

That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing lately. “I’ll start that tomorrow, Lord.” Or “I know, I know, I’ll do it. Eventually. When I feel like it.” Thankfully, His patience is much longer than Mom’s! In fact, it’s never-ending. Now before you begin to judge me, you need to know that I am very aware of this problem in my life and am working on it. See, stubbornness typically has a negative connotation. It usually rears its ugly head when we want to buck the system. In fact, it’s a sign of rebellion. Determination, on the other hand, has a more positive connotation.

DETERMINATION…
Determination is when you set your mind to accomplish something. You have a resolve or a purpose in mind. Even though I’m being stubborn and fighting against the Lord, I’m also determined to push through this. Let’s go back to our childhoods again. Do you remember a time when you set your mind on something you really wanted to do? For me, I wanted to play the clarinet in fifth grade. (Yes, I was strange child!) There was a deadline to sign up to get your instrument and schedule lessons, and I knew exactly when that deadline was. I had so much resolve that I nagged and nagged and even begged my mom to sign me up before we missed the deadline. Without that determination I would not have spent seven years in band.

Now here’s a paradox for you: I am determined to be less stubborn. I really don’t like being – nor do I want to be – rebellious against God. It never ends well. Just look at the multitude of rebellious people in the Bible and how they ended up! Nope. I do not want to be like them! With that in mind, I have determined in my heart that I WILL work towards submitting to God and allowing Him to do what He wants, when He wants, and where He wants – no matter how painful it is or how much I have to give up. The same philosophy or approach to living a healthy lifestyle, applies here: I will need to take it one small step at a time. When small steps are taken, life changes take on a more permanent hold in our lives.

TO SUM IT ALL UP…
Being the information junkie I can be, I looked up the definitions on dictionary.com. They state stubborn as this: “unreasonably obstinate, obstinately unmoving” and “hard, tough, or stiff, as stone or wood; difficult to shape or work.” Wow…that pretty much describes me! The ironic thing is that when we are hard or stiff, it becomes more painful for us when the Lord attempts to shape our lives. Ouch! Determination, on the other hand, was defined as this: “the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose.” Oh yeah! That’s the attitude I want to have. Not just with this one situation, but every day. Even as I write this, I can feel some stubborn determination (like the use of an oxymoron?) rising up within me. I believe that if I am determined to eradicate (or at least minimize) this stubbornness in my life, then I will be able to overcome it so that the Lord can have His way in my life. That’s what determination allows us to do – accomplish what we put our minds to.

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