Healthy Soul/Lessons Learned/My Life/Teen Life Sometimes You’re Not the Smartest Person in the Room by Patricia Moes As the youngest of eight, I learned from a very young age that I typically get what I want. Ok, that sounded bad. What I mean by that is — I quickly realized that although rules exist, there is almost always an exception to every rule. All I had to do was ask. Sometimes this meant smiling a lot, other times I had to shed a tear. Some questions were asked with confidence, while others were mumbled in order to seem shy. Every situation is different, honestly. I won’t go into too much detail because the last thing I want you to take away from this blog is how to talk your way out of stuff, but you get the idea. Anyway, to say I used this talent often would be an understatement. When I was a senior in high school, I had 16 absences and 28 tardies to Calculus one quarter. Did I still pass that class? Of course. I parked my car in the faculty parking lot because it had shade as opposed to the student parking lot. I also conveniently missed the deadline to pay for that parking permit. Mandatory study hall for athletes? No thanks. A’s on essays about books I never read, taking tests a day later because I was “sick”, the list could go on and on my friends. The sad part is; I didn’t even realize this was a problem. As far as I was concerned, I was the model student, and these exceptions were merely rewards because of my outstanding behavior. If you had asked high school me to describe herself, I can guarantee you she would not have said disobedient. That’s right: disobedient. Deadlines, assignments, rules… these are all things God was asking me to be obedient to. I don’t think anybody realized I had this problem until I served as a summer missionary at Camp Hidden Lake in 2014. Unlike everyone else, my service crew coordinator realized it rather quickly. He explained that my talent for finding the exception to the rule was rooted in a lack of trust and respect for the people who made the rules. If I truly trusted my service crew coordinator, I would believe that every rule he made was for the betterment of my community. I knew that he cared about each of us. I knew that he had a strong prayer life and received the sacraments regularly. Obedience isn’t a mindless or boring choice. It comes from taking the time to recognize that someone desires the best for us, even when it’s hard to understand their logic. It comes from trusting that we’re not always the smartest person in the room. Two Smarter People In fact, there are usually two smarter people in the room. One of them will try to convince you that you are indeed the smartest person in the room. His name is Satan. He sees how badly you want to stay out past curfew, or how much you hate loading the dishwasher, and works very hard to convince you to trust your own logic rather than that of those who love you. St. Theresa noticed this tactic and explained, “The devil, seeing that there is no shorter road to the summit of perfection than that of obedience, artfully insinuates many repugnancies and difficulties under color of good, to prevent us from following it.” This is exactly how he tricked Eve; by convincing her she couldn’t trust God, the one who loved her. Speaking of God, He’s the other smart person in the room. He knows your heart. He also happens to know the past, present, and future. When God asks us to be obedient to something, we can trust He wants what’s best for us. He’s weaving it all together for our good. He’s placed parents, teachers, and coaches in your life to help you make the proper choices in order to live a life filled with freedom. Easier Said Than Done “You’re right, Patricia, I definitely want to be more obedient, but where do I start?” I’m glad you asked! 1. Pray. As soon as someone makes a decision that involves your cooperation, pray. Before Satan even has a chance to bother you, ask God to give you the grace to trust that person and to understand their decision. 2. Support them. Because God Himself is community (gotta love the Trinity, amiright?), we were made for community. And because Satan doesn’t want us to be like God, he tries to attack our communities any way he can. If someone asks you for your opinion about this decision, encourage them to pray for trust and understanding too, rather than gossiping about someone’s leadership skills. 3. Be honest. If you still don’t have peace about their decision after a few days of praying, let them know. Respectfully. Any good leader values the opinions of those they are serving, so they’ll definitely be open to hearing your concerns. This shows them that you truly do care about the situation, and maybe they’ll be interested in explaining their reasoning to you, or implementing a suggestion you have. Be Free When we choose to trust our own judgments, we end up picking fruits we shouldn’t be picking (Sorry, Eve). But, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). And freedom is exactly what being obedient has given me. Back when I used to think I was the smartest person in the room, I felt the need to give my opinion about every decision people were making because I wanted it to go my way. This habit will bring a lot of drama into your life for many reasons. And trust me, spending your time talking in circles only makes you dizzy. By dying to self and respecting the rules made by those who care about you, you’ll fill your heart, your parent’s hearts, and God’s heart with joy. Be free, friends.