“Mama, can I build a tent in the schoolroom for Lynsey to play in?”
“No, I really would rather you not right now. I don’t want you to get all that stuff out. Can’t you find something else to do?”
That part of me (the neat freak) that absolutely dreads seeing sheets, blankets, and other assorted items accumulating throughout the room that I just cleaned was shouting “NO, NO, NO!” in my head.
But as those words were pouring from my mouth, the Holy Spirit prompted me to rethink my “no” answer. I recalled the wise parenting advice given to me “Say yes when you can to your children.”
Quickly realizing that we have all been shut up in the house for the past 3 days due to an ice storm, I knew our ideas for creativity were running out! And I loved the fact that my daughter wanted to play with her sister and create a fun activity for them to do together. Anytime I see an unselfish and giving spirit in my children, I certainly want to monopolize on that as a parent.
“Yes, it will be fine. Just remember that I am not cleaning up anything you drag out. That’s your job.”
“YAAAAAY!! This will be so much fun!” shouted my girl.
As a parent, I typically find it much easier to say “no” to my children. “No more cookies! No more running through the house! No more aggravating your brother! No, you may not watch tv right now! No, you must go to bed. No, you cannot have that. No! No! No!”
Naturally, there are many times in parenting that we must say “no” to our children. Perhaps for a safety reason, a timing issue, a health benefit, a discipline encounter, etc. But why do I often find it difficult to respond with a “yes” answer?
If I am honest, giving a “yes” answer usually requires more sacrifice from me. “Yes, we can bake cookies. (I’ll give you my time and clean up our mess.) Yes, we can play dolls together. (I have real twin babies that I take care of all day long.) Yes, you can play with play-doh. (Please don’t ever give my kids playdoh.) Yes, you can paint. (I’ll change your clothes again.) Yes, you can make a tent in the schoolroom. (I’ll refold the sheets.) Yes, you may stay up late tonight and watch a movie. (I’ll serve popcorn and drinks. . .then fall asleep on the couch.)”
Saying “yes” often requires my time, my attention, my investment, my money, and my energy. My natural bent is to serve myself. I came into this world as a selfish sinner. I enjoy pleasing myself.
But as a child of the King, God calls me to a life of sacrifice. Jesus calls me to give of myself, “To give is more blessed than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Jesus calls me to a life of humility. . . putting others interests before my own. (Philippians 2) Jesus commands me to love, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Giving, serving, and loving display the Gospel- Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Ultimate Giver, the Humble Servant, and Gracious Lover. And He extends opportunities for me to model the Gospel in saying “yes” to my children! And saying “no” to my selfishness!
Why is it important to give “yes” answers to my children?
- It calls me to humility.
The more I choose to give of myself- my time, my attention, my energy, and my money-I am practicing humility. Humility displays the Gospel. Colossians 3:12 says, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NLT)
- It reflects the heart of our gracious Father.
God delights in giving us good gifts. I model the gracious giving of the Heavenly Father when I give the gift of “yes” to my children. Matthew 7: 11 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (NASB)
- It reminds me that God desires to give us “yes” answers.
Many times in Scripture, God commands us to seek Him for answers, to call upon His name, and to ask Him for wisdom. (Matt. 7:7, Jer. 33:3, James 1:5) He longs to give Himself to us. He desires to say “yes” to His children. If we do not ask, we will not receive the blessing of His “yes.”
- It softens the “no” answers.
Just yesterday, I had to give my son a very difficult “no” answer. Because of disrespect and attitude, he lost his opportunity to visit a friend’s house. Undoubtedly, there are many times that I must tell my children “no” to wishes, requests, and opportunities. Yet, I truly believe that when our “yes” answers outweigh our “no” answers, then our children seem to respond better to the “no’s.” When I have made several deposits into the love bank, it is easier to make a withdrawal.
When I reflect on the numerous times that God has said “yes” to my desires, requests, and opportunities, I gain such perspective when He gives me a “no.” I am able to clearly see that He delights to give me the desires of my heart (Ps. 37:4). He has “blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”. (Eph. 1:3) I can trust Him in the “no” answers that His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts than my thoughts. (Is. 55:9) I choose to believe that He is working all things (especially the “no” answers) for my good and conforming me to be more like Jesus. (Romans 8:28-29)
- It opens the door for unexpected joy.
Many joys have come to me because I gave a “yes” rather than a “no.” I’m so glad I said “yes” to getting a kitten. I had no idea of the healing from grief that would come to my daughter through our cat, Bolt. I’m so glad that I said “yes” to my children staying up late to celebrate a newly engaged couple who gave God the glory for their relationship. I’m so thankful that I said “yes” to a park day after school. We all needed the fresh air and sunshine to revive our weary souls.
- It points my children to the ultimate “yes” of God—Jesus Christ.
I am reminded that God says “yes” to me because of Jesus Christ. I deserve death, but I am given the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. (Rom. 6:23) I deserve condemnation, but I am free and totally accepted in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1) I have been saved by His grace and could never earn my salvation. (Eph. 2:8) God has given His Son to me and therefore offered all of His “yes” answers to me through Christ Jesus! What a blessing to be “in Christ.” (Ephesians)
May I use my “yes” wisely today. Teach me to sacrifice. Lead me to reflect Your gracious love and favor. Help me to model humility. Give me discernment in using a “no” with my children. I desire to display the Gospel within my home. Thank you for all the “yes” answers in my own life. Thank you for saying “yes” to me and offering me the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. You are always good. . .even in the “no’s.” I know that Your heart is gracious, full of compassion. You are slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. (Joel 2:13) May I point my children to You in daily living.