As a parent, do you ever feel like a “no” machine? As much as I thought that would never by my parenting style, I find I say “no” a lot more than I’d like. I am not talking about the moments when a “no” is important, I am referring to the “nos” that are rooted in inconvenience to me…and I am not proud to say, there are a lot of them.
We have a child who tends to get the brunt of our “nos”. She is the one who usually swims against the tide. Now, my pastor/lover-of-all-people-who-sees-the-gold-and-calls-it-out-no-matter-who-you-are side knows that this child is created to do big things and the reason she is different from the rest is because the Lord intended her to be that way! She is mighty and beautifully unique. This kid loves the Lord and wants to serve Him in all ways. But my wife/mother of three/full-time ministry/and aspiring author side sometimes just wants that child to go with the flow! Ugh, I’m so guilty.
She doesn’t just want to go back to Belize for another missions adventure, she wants to go to Cambodia on her own. Like now.
My response? “NO! You can’t go to Cambodia, you’re only 13!” She wants to play the violin/cello/drums etc. My response? “NO! There are about five other instruments in this house. When you actually learn to play one of them, I will think about one of those.” She wants to homeschool. My response? “NO! We aren’t in a position to do that just for you. Your two sisters go to regular school, you can too.” Ugh….my heart breaks.
So, recently as we were sitting on the couch having one of our long and multi-subject conversations, my husband comes home. He had been gone awhile and I didn’t know where he had been. He throws open the door and yells her name like she is in trouble. I say, “Babe, we’re right here…gosh!”
He rounds the corner with a guitar in his hand. Standing in front of her he says, “Here you go baby, this is for you.”
She looks at him like he has six heads. “Huh?”
“I bought this for you. I am so impressed at the work you have done with your ukulele and I think it’s time you have your own guitar.” I was instantly a mess.
She says, “Are you serious, Dad?!”
“Of course, honey! I am so proud of you.” She takes it from his hand and runs upstairs and begins to play with it.
He tells me that he saw it hanging at Guitar Center and heard the Lord say, “Buy it for your daughter.” He got a smokin’ deal on it and even sold something else to pay cash for it. I love this man. My heart swoons when he wins at the dad game.
Anyhow, what comes next in this story is not a good series of events. In fact, they are very traumatic. It includes dramatic intervention physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but has resulted in a totally new life for our daughter. But it all started that night. The night a father said “yes” to his daughter.
The Lord revealed to me in the very difficult days to follow that something happened in the spiritual realm when her earthly father not only said “yes” to her desires, but even financially sowed into that “yes”. He showed me that what her daddy did for her was a direct reflection of what her heavenly Father did for her. Jesus said “yes” to her and paid it all for her to live in freedom. His was the best “yes”.
I have seen a radical shift in our daughter. She is now homeschooled, performing a lead role in a youth theater production, playing every instrument she can get her hands on, serving as much as possible at church, and learning responsibility left and right. She even chopped off her hair! She said to me the other day, “It’s like I am a totally new person!”
As parents we try to create boundaries around our kids to protect and help them…but sometimes those boundaries are more for our convenience and not for the benefit of the child. As we are adjusting to the new circumstances surrounding our daughter, I felt the need to share my heart with her. I told her that I was sorry for putting my routine and comfort above her needs. We told her that her growth and discovery of herself is far more important to us than our comfort. We also informed her that saying “yes” to her more often doesn’t mean she will always get what she wants, but that she does have a voice and it is a vital part of our family. We want to sow into her future, not hold her within our walls.
I am thankful for the grace as a parent to learn as I go. I am thankful for my husband who is the best daddy ever. I am even more thankful for my daughter’s mommy who so beautifully allows me the space to love them and who teaches me so much. And I am thankful to my heavenly Father who said the best “yes”…through Jesus.