Every culture values law and tradition, social boundaries, and clear moral rules. These keep us safe and give us guidelines to follow; they also help us learn how to control our egos. Without laws, human life would be anarchy and chaos. (In our early years, the ego cannot be allowed to be totally in charge, or it will take over.)
On the other hand, without pushing against law and tradition, humans could never move forward. (In our adolescent years, we begin to challenge authorities and the boundaries they set for us.)
So we need freedom as well as law. Throughout human history, the misuse of law and tradition has damaged our societies and limited our personal development. (Most tragedies in history have been waged by unquestioning followers of dominating leaders.)
Thus the Gospel calls us, again and again, to leave our homes, families, and fishing nets. (see Falling Upward, p. 38)
In his metaphor of the ‘loyal soldier’, Rohr is talking about the superego (Falling Upward, p. 171).
Our ‘loyal soldier’ is the internal guide that reminds us of law and tradition; it also gives us identity, security, and purpose. Our ‘soldier’ usually gets us safely through the first half of life.
In fact, our ‘soldier’ can give us so much security and validation that we can confuse its voice with the voice of God. The ‘soldier’ is like an internalized ‘general’ who tells us to stay in line, and do the job we’ve been assigned. But because the ‘soldier’ can’t see the world through God’s eyes, it can’t get us to the second half of life.
The ‘soldier’ may keep us safe, but it has an egocentric view of the world. It can help with the early decisions that demand black-and-white thinking; but as we move into the subtleties of midlife and later life, our choices become too complex for the ‘soldier’.
Now, beyond the first half of life, we come to some kind of ‘soul encounter’ with our deeper selves. The call to wholeness and holiness always stretches us beyond our comfort zone.
Now the orders that have always come from our internal ‘general’ will no longer help us; we must learn how to hear the much-more-subtle Voice of God, whose only ‘rule’ is love.
Without our ‘loyal soldier’, we can no longer see a clear way forward – there are no clear-cut rules to show us how to love.
With each new person and each situation – and without precise guidelines for every situation – we will need to hear the deeper wisdom of God.
Now we must learn to trust. This is the first step of faith: trusting that we can learn to hear God’s Voice when the rules are no longer carved in stone.
Now our real faith journey begins.