I have spent roughly 120,960 minutes with my three boys this summer in a small house. It's either been humid and raining, or too freaking hot to step outside. That's Texas for you.
We are so over each other.
My voice, my commands, my requests, my reprimands--I know that I pretty much started to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher.
They started to ignore me. Completely tune me out.
Now--let's be real here: I do NOT have the energy to press into every single infraction or issue. I have to pick my battles. And, I have to let them figure out conflict on their own sometimes.
But, there are times when I have to put my foot down. I have to balance out the "yeses" and the "nos."
"MY NO MEANS NO." I pull this card when they trample on one of my non negotiables. Or when they push me over the edge.
No, means NO.
(I wrote another blog post titled YES. You'll have to check it out.)
No's on the receiving end are not fun. They suck.
But they're necessary. They're just as important to our development as human beings as the yeses. We need boundaries. We need limits. We need (constructive) criticism. We need DISCIPLINE. We need to learn that the world doesn't revolve around us and we can't have everything we want.
This morning my oldest son tagged along with me to the grocery store. He asked to go look at the toys (Shocker.) We were actually looking for a birthday present for a friend. He, being seven, forgot about the mission and got a case of the "I wants!" He wanted a $2.50 piece of junk Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure.
I said no. (Shocker.)
I told him: I'd already treated him to a donut. We didn't have a lot of money to spend and instead of that cheap, crappy toy, I'd rather buy him and his brothers popsicles--something that every one enjoys.
He got angry. He shut down and pouted. In his brain I was the meanest Mom in the whole wide world and I was totally trampling on his right as a human being to get everything he ever wanted on impulse. Gosh!
See? No's suck. My son is not wrong.
When was the last time you were told, "No?"
Your contract is not being renewed.
You were not chosen.
You are too drunk to drive.
I don't want to be friends anymore.
We've decided to go with someone else.
You can't have children.
The cancer has come back.
You're just not right for the part.
I think we should see other people.
I'm sorry, there was no heartbeat.
We didn't get the house.
I didn't get the promotion.
Your card has been declined.
What do you do when you're told NO?
Do you pout? Do you shut down? Do you huff and puff? Do you curse the one who told you "No?"
Or, do you look to the one who put the NO in place?
"God, you must know best."
I cannot see the big picture. It hurts and I don't like it one bit, but I will trust you.
It's just as important was the YES.
It should not stunt us. It should not cause us to recoil. We should look to it as safety net. No's and Yeses are all blessings. Often in disguise.
When I tell my children NO, this is what I am saying: "MY NO means NO. It may mean never. It may mean no, not right now. It's not that I don't want you to have fun. I don't want you to hurt yourself or hurt anyone else. I don't want you to be spoiled or feel entitled. I want you to learn it's not always all about you. My no is good for you in the long run. Trust me. I love you. This NO now may be teaching you to appreciate the YES that's coming up next."
The Bible says:
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. HEBREWS 12:5-11
And, my favorite PROVERB of all time: "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid." (Proverbs 12:1)