Almost fifteen years ago I gave oaths of loyalty, service, and affection to My Lord. This undertaking had more steps than I anticipated. When I first decided, “Yes, this is something I’m going to do”, He stopped me. My heart wasn’t in the right place. My motivation wasn’t right.
But isn’t this right? I asked. This is what you wanted from me. I’m just doing what you asked me to.
That was the problem and that was my very first lesson.
What Loki challenged me on years ago was my tendency to do for others what I wouldn’t do for myself. He challenged me on my willingness to do what the Gods ask without reflection, analysis, or critique. He challenged my using of O/others as an excuse to avoid looking closely at myself. Where were my needs in this decision? Where were my desires? Where was my careful consideration and necessary negotiation?
His lesson that day was to take action under my own initiative, for my own reasons, with my own desires in mind – regardless of W/who was asking for my action. Before long it became very clear that my highest loyalty would have to be to myself. I might have named My Lord as my life’s top priority, but that priority was chosen from my desires; that priority was chosen for the fulfillment of what I believed my life’s potential to hold. I bless My Lord for his leading me to value a potential I barely realized I had.
This lesson and its fundamental importance to my life and my spiritual path have been driven home over and over and over again. I’m not supposed to act without considering what impact those actions might have on myself, my ability to fulfill my responsibilities, or on my future. In a way, I’m oathbound to myself by virtue of the promises I made to my Gods.
In a very real way, I don’t get to put the Gods above myself. Even when I do (or appear to), it’s out of loyalty to myself. Without this loyalty, my path unravels. Today, I recognize things about myself that I didn’t know back then. I use helping others as an excuse not to help myself. I use community service as a mask for dealing with my own problems. I use religious devotion and love of the Gods as a distraction from the fact that I have had little love or consideration for myself – or, at times, for others.
For some people, putting the Gods first is the means to positive growth. For others, including myself, putting the Gods first is a damaging and potentially dangerous road that feeds self-loathing and a disdain for manifest creation. Which is right for you? To determine this, one has to examine the outcome. Are you a healthier, happier, more compassionate, more responsible person able to help others and serve the world, including the Gods, as a result of putting them first? If so, great. If not, perhaps a different tactic is called for.