I’m finally pulling this idea together after it’s come up in my own personal conversations, as well as with my clients. Working with Christian women, and being one myself, I think we have to begin questioning what we believe to be true and why. Some of what we believe has been religious conditioning. And that’s okay, as that’s how we learn and grow in the Christian community. But just like everything else, there are some things that have become a “rule” to follow, whether it was explicitly or implicitly stated.
Specifically, we call this legalism. As it pertains to salvation, the degree of legalism which says that by doing good works or by obeying God’s law a person earns salvation is called nomism. That’s one form of legalism. But typically, in Christian circles, legalism says that though they are saved by the grace of God apart from works, they are better than other Christians if they maintain a strict, often extrabiblical, code of conduct. In order words, their value is wrapped up in what they do, how they act, how they perform, all based on a “rule” someone else made up. Rules like, as a Christian you should attend church every Sunday, and every other day the church doors are open for that matter, women should wear panty hose (ugh I hated that rule), you shouldn’t play cards, or dance, or have a glass of wine with dinner. Rules all made up by man. None of those rules are in the Bible. But I also want to suggest to you that even the rules given to us by God are given to you as a choice to follow, or not. You get to make your own rules...about following the rules.
Now, before you shut me out, hear me say this: The Bible calls men (and women) to repentance, holiness, and godliness. And because Christianity is concerned with morality, righteousness, and ethics, as a Christian I would hope that one of your rules is to follow the tenets and precepts of the Bible.
And that’s the whole point of today’s episode: Make your own rules. And by that I mean, decide for yourself what rules you want to follow. This makes you think critically, though, instead of just following along with the crowd. Or doing things just because your friend does. Or doesn’t.
The best way to do that is to examine the rules you are currently following or adhering to and ask yourself “Why?” Some rules are just so engrained in us and we have no idea why. I was talking to one of my clients about this this week and she recalled a “rule” that she remembered her dad had for everyone when she grew up. His rule that when you filled up a cup or glass with liquid that it had to be filled all the way to the top brim, almost spilling over. That full. She realized that she had adopted this rule from her childhood because she taught her kids the same rule. And she, admittedly, had no idea why that rule was implemented in the first place. She just did it because it was engrained in her.
So, let’s stop here a second. What is a rule that you follow in your life and you have no idea why? Or what is something that you didn’t even stop to consider would be a rule to reject? You just accepted of implemented in your life without really even thinking about it? When was the last time you thought critically about your own rules?
My unsanctified self is a non-conformist rebel. I am rule avoidant. Or perhaps it’s demand avoidant. And, truthfully, this does show up in my sanctified self, too. Either way, when everyone else does something, I usually don’t. Or if I do, it takes me a long time to join in, simply because I want to have a really good reason for doing it. I remember when the new style that just came out for women - and it was everywhere - was ¾ length button down shirts and cropped pants. I was like, “Nope. There is no way I’m wearing that.” It literally took me more than 2 seasons of that style being the “in” thing for me to join in. I told that to a friend the other day and he said, “That’s because you’re a leader, not a follower.” I’m not so sure that’s really the answer. It probably has more to do with that non-conformist rebel thing. Anyway, the point of sharing this story is to ask, when was the last time you did something or didn’t do something based on your own choices, your own values, your own desires, your own rules, instead of someone else’s?
Don’t you think it’s time to make your own rules? And why should I do that, you might ask? Well, first, because you’re an individual with ‘Agency.’ Let me give you the definition of agency again: ‘Agency’ is defined as the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. It’s where you decide who you are and who you are not. It is your ability to separate your own thoughts and feelings from those of others and to take responsibility for what you think, feel and do. It refers to the thoughts and actions taken by people that express their individual power - their independence. ‘Agency’ is taking responsibility for your life through self-regulatory skills. If you want to hear more about ‘Agency’ listen to Episode 117 - Abundant-Life Saboteur: Giving Away Your Agency. So, because we have ‘Agency’ to decide for ourselves who we want to be and who we are not, how we want to show up in life, it’s necessary for us to take responsibility for which “rules” frame our lives.
Another reason why you should make your own rules is because God gave you the intellectual capability to think for yourself. It’s my personal opinion that many of us have gotten so lazy that we’ve quit thinking for ourselves. We’ve allowed the marketing gurus to tell us what we need, what to buy, where to go, and what will make us happy. And the news media to tell us what to believe and what to be afraid of. God has given you a beautiful brain, friend. Let’s use it! Let’s make some rules.
So, as you could deduce, these rules should cover moral, religious, social, and personal aspects of your life. That’s a good start, anyway. And the first thing I think we should understand is that every rule we make for ourselves leads us to make certain choices. And every choice is consequential – good and bad. Everything we do, action we take or don’t take, every decision to go or stay has a consequence. Saying kind words to someone has a consequence – hopefully a good consequence. Running a stop light has a consequence – usually a bad one.
So, when making your rules, you’ll want to weigh the consequences of following them. Good and bad. And every choice or decision you make within that rule will also need to be evaluated by their consequences. And the way you know you are making a good choice within the rule is if you love your reasons why. Just love your reasons why you’re making that choice instead of a different one.
For example, as a Christian, your rules should serve you and God well. Not because I say so. But because a Christian is a Christ follower. The word “Christian” comes from the Greek word christianos, meaning “little Christ.” You are representing Jesus and all that He taught. So, one of my rules is to follow the teachings of Jesus and walk in a manner worthy of my calling as “little Christ.” And all of my choices flow out of that rule because I love Christ and want to please Him – and I love those reasons why.
Now, here’s a little warning: there are going to be some rules that you chose for yourself that other people don’t like. And they may have opinions about you based on those rules. But that’s the beauty of ‘Agency’: you get to choose for yourself, and they get to choose for themselves. Nevertheless, you might feel some push-back when you start to set and implement rules for yourself. It’s kind of like setting boundaries. When you first start setting rules for yourself, the only ones that start giving you a hard time about it are the ones that have been taking advantage of you not having any rules. Yes, that’s the same with setting boundaries. I talked a lot more about this – in a 3-part series, as a matter of fact – in episodes number 37, 38, and 39 – Setting Healthy Boundaries. But with rules, some people might get upset with you because you’ve chosen different rules than they have. You’re going against the grain. You rebel. These people clearly do not understand the power of ‘Agency.’ But you do.
You do, right? I heard someone say the other day “It’s hard to be me.” And she was talking about the parameters and the expectations and the “have tos” that she puts around herself regarding her life. These were her “rules” for living. And her response was “It’s hard to be me.” So, this is someone who I would describe as a person who didn’t fully grasp the power of ‘Agency’ in their own rule making. Because it sounds like she doesn’t like the consequences and she doesn’t love her reasons why. In fact, it sounds more like someone who has implemented her rules based on what others think of her and expect of her. And her “have tos” – those choices she makes every day inside the rule of people-pleasing – is done in order to keep from disappointing someone…and that someone is not herself. It’s someone outside herself. And, I would venture to guess, is someone outside of her Heavenly Father. Because we know to please Him is easy.
So, friend, what rules do you want to make for yourself? Let me remind you, you get a choice to decide if you even follow something like the rules of the law. You get to decide if you’re someone who obeys the law by stopping at a red light. Yeah, that’s even crazy to think, right? You get to make your own rule about following the law. If you decide that that’s not going to be one of your rules, just understand there are consequences to that decision, and I hope you love your reasons why. And have extra ticket money in your pocket. But, again, that’s totally up to you. So, I hope you, by your ‘Agency,’ take the time to take that freedom of thinking critically and individually in order to make your own rules.
Okay, have you found that you don’t even know where to begin when making your own rules? Well, I’d love to help you. That’s one of the things a Life Coach does, is help people get clarity and direction to mapping out their own lives. And I’d love to help you do this. There’s a link in the show notes to book a free 30-minute discovery call at your convenience.
Also, don’t forget to grab the guide that will help you -step by step - work through this idea of making your own rules. That’s a great place to start. The link is in the show notes, too .
Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.
What is a rule that you follow in your life and you have no idea why? Or what is something that you didn’t even stop to consider would be a rule to reject? You just accepted of implemented in your life without really even thinking about it? When was the last time you thought critically about your own rules?
Today’s topic is all about utilizing your ‘Agency’ to make your own rules for your life.
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