I spend a lot of the time telling my children no. So much so that Bella, my child who always wishes to know the outcome to every question she plans to ask before it is asked, has begun starting off her requests with, “Are you gonna say no?” …before she even asks the question.
My insides cringe a bit when she says that. And my internal dialogue goes something like this. “Am I such a meanie that she feels like all I ever say is ‘no’? I mean, don’t I sometimes say yes? Am I a fun parent or am I just a parent who tells them no? Does she believe that I want good things for her?” And on and on and on. The crazy, obsessive thoughts are not something I counted on when I planned my delightful foray into motherhood.
And then, today, I had this thought. The fact is, I do tell my children “no” a lot. But it’s because frankly, sometimes they are ridiculous. They don’t know what’s best for them. They are constantly asking for things that aren’t good for them. Candy (I probably say yes to candy too often), television, to stay up later, to duck out of piano practice, to endless sleepovers and more dessert and snack after snack after snack. And I am constantly saying no. If they would only learn to ask for more vegetables, and decent bedtime hours, and for goodness sake would I shut off the television so they can do some more informational reading, I could say yes more often. But, they’re kids. And they don’t ask for those things. And so I say no. Because I love them so much.
It’s good to say no. We need no.
Which brings me to my own life. In light of my tiny understanding of God and his purposes and what is good for me, it’s a wonder he says yes to me as often as he does. More often, it seems sometimes, the answer is no…if I even bother to ask. Too often, I rush ahead without asking. Taking whatever I want, doing whatever I want because it seems good. My kids do that, too. (Particularly a certain three year old I know.) It never turns out very well. For either of us.
In truth, though, I’m a little more like Bella. And I generally like to know the answer before I ask the question. Because there is a tiny control freak that lives inside of me. And so, I often measure my requests. I don’t ask a lot for what I really want because I’m afraid of no. Why am I so afraid of that? Do I think God is such a meanie that all he ever wants to say is no? Doesn’t he sometimes say yes? Do I really believe he is good? And if I do, then can’t I believe that if he says no, it’s because he loves me so much? What am I missing out on because I am afraid to ask?
So, what I’m asking for now, is that I would feel the freedom to ask for whatever I want. The freedom to be ridiculous in the face of a God who loves me. The freedom to know that my value in Him isn’t diminished when I ask for something he doesn’t say yes to. The freedom to hear ‘no’ and believe that it’s because he loves me so much. And I’ll hope and pray that, one day, those requests line up with His plans and purposes more often than not as I grow and learn to love him more. Because a girl gets tired of hearing no all the time. Just ask Bella.
I think that’s a request God can say yes to. Freedom to rest in my love for you? Yes, Beloved. And he probably feels the same sense of relief that I do when my kids finally ask for something that’s good for them, something that is easy to say yes to, something that makes me smile and say, “For goodness sakes yes. Let’s get you that right now.”