Our first born is 18 months old. He recently discovered he’s a person with the strategic ability to tell me no. Not a no that is muffled and quiet and a little unsure. But a no that is self-assured, said three times with proper speech formation and with the added effect of a solid head shake.
Is it effective?
Are you ready for a nap?
No, no, no.
William, please finish your pears.
No, no, no.
Can you leave your shoes on?
No, no, no.
Come and give your mama a kiss, please.
And then he runs away.
He knows exactly what he saying. He knows what it means. And he uses it, strategically and daily.
The more and more I watch and observe his becoming, the more amazed I am that God, in all of His genius, thought this human life thing up and is the most patient with our no-ing…specifically in this writing, the fleshy no.
We are a whole lot of things by nature.
Unruly, stubborn, defiant.
Exposed to a spirit of sin and self.
Needy, ungrateful, dependent.
Full of freedom undeserved.
And with a voice all our own that can be used in a range of manner.
This is true for grown-ups too. And if you’re saying, no it’s not, then you get me more than you think.
But after stepping back from the “no” moments and looking at who my little man is at his heart core,
we are tiny miracles full of greatness.
The conversations we have with him, even in simple speak for a toddler, help to shape his thoughts and next behavior. Our tone and language guide him, one way or the other. Our frustration and impatience can escalate him, or our slow to anger and offer of open arms can calm him.
Parenthood means we have the chance to ask questions to redirect him, use words that steady him, tell stories that open doors for other possibilities, expose him to positive examples of the heart kind of good people have in them.
Or we could choose to ignore him, enable him, or scare him out of his little humanness…but that would be enforcing this whole idea of human no-ing in the first place, right?
We can also see beyond the no and consider the why he’s saying it.
He hears mom and dad say no sometimes.
The world screams no.
He’s trying to set boundaries, to make himself heard.
Even when it’s an unreasonable no.
He wants to be seen and known and heard and have his needs met.
Don’t we all?
Isn’t that why we act out of self and sin?
I think about how God must feel as a Father to all of us unruly, but full of goodness, kids.
The world is a hot mess.
It’s easy to see the nos and the defiance and the broken and the ugly selfishness. On most days it can be kind of draining and disheartening.
But what does God see?
I think He sees a reason to open His arms out to us longer, because His love is that great.
I think He sees a reason to wait patiently for us to run back in an act of yes.
I think He sees a world of people that He thought up and believes in just so.
I think He sees a reason to get on bended knees and pray harder.
I think He sees enough yes this is good for more stories to be written.
I think He sees a need and a reason to show up present.
I think He sees a person whose heart has capacity for all of the good things we are because we’re birthed from Him.
My son is a habitant of a sin-spread world. As a mama, that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and kind of a pit in my stomach.
But also an urgency.
To show him
Obedience and listening and anchored.
To point him higher than his flesh and to see
A hope rooted in gratitude and joy.
I get to teach him about how free he is,
In an undeserved but overwhelming kind of love.
And I get to love him harder in all of my yes’s and
Pray he does the same.
Sometimes no paves way for knowing, and I promise to know them every day.
a mama like you