Free will can look a lot like teenage rebellion–
if the people who dislike your choices are manipulative or gossipy or judgmental or think your faith is some kind of cult.
Not kidding. Some people think that about the Catholic Faith.
You will get resistance. Breaking family and cultural mores can get you more consequences than backtalk did when you were twelve. There are times I would rather have a slap across the face for being a bit of a smart alec to my parent.
Or a fly swatter to the butt. Done and over. Stings for a moment and the sting is gone.
Or a lecture that I could hear and then walk down the hall to my room and shut the door.
So how do you know if you are who they say you are? How do you know much of anything when you decide to stop factoring in and even responding emotionally to the sanctions, both covert and overt?
You know that passage, lean not on your own understanding? Get a priest. A very good spiritual director.
And get it all out there – like you just threw up all over the place.
He is used to that.
And he is used to seeing the bigger picture. God’s perspective. If he gives you the green light to carve out space from those who make you feel crappy, then it is not rebellion, or angst, or vindictiveness. No matter what anyone else says (or whispers to another).
It is you just doing what you should have done a long time ago. Congratulations, you just embraced the gift of free will.
And if you frequent the confessional and seek spiritual direction, chances are pretty high that you are actually making a solid decision. Be willing to say, Get behind me satan.
It will still feel uncomfortable. You know how your old friends or family respond to your tentative attempts to extricate yourself from their frowny faces.
Rebellion is not bad. It just depends what you are rebelling against.
You are loved by God. He delights in you. He wants you whole. He wants you fully living the life of his divine grace.
Anything that threatens that beautiful gift needs to be told to stand down.
So now that you can choose to live any way you want, choose to live well. Choose the life God created for you.
Here, you really do get to be you.