When No Means Know

I have been a parent for close to 19 years now and I can say (with at least 90% certainty) that I have said NO to my kids much more than I have said YES. I am sure if you ask them, they will corroborate this unscientific study!

My tendency to answer in the negative began as soon as they were old enough to understand what the word NO meant:

No, do not put that in your mouth

No, do not touch.

No, you cannot stay up; you have to take a nap or go to sleep.

No, you cannot have candy for breakfast.

No, you cannot throw a tantrum when you don’t get your way.

No, you cannot use your shirt as a napkin or Kleenex.

No, you cannot run around the yard naked or pee wherever you want.

No, you cannot hit or bite your siblings because you are angry.

No, you cannot watch that TV show.

No, you cannot wear that.

No, you cannot stay home from school, skip practice, or miss church.

No, you cannot have a sleepover.

No, you cannot have a cell phone (yet).

No, you cannot stay out past curfew.

No, you cannot go that party.

And no, you cannot talk to me like that because you are upset because I said NO!

Why do I say NO so much?

Because I KNOW so much!

Am I right, parents? Can I get an AMEN?

(And those kids out there who are reading this…please hang in there and keep reading. I want you to try and see it from our perspective.)

I am not the party pooper that my kids think that I am (well, maybe sometimes).

I want them to do things, have fun, meet new people, go cool places, and experience life to the fullest. I really do. I promise.

Yet, as a parent, I am also responsible for them on many levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

And that sometimes means I have to say NO to things that really do not make sense to them.

I truly get it. I see why they are confused, frustrated, angry, and upset.

I was a kid once…

But want I want them to understand is that my NO usually comes from a place of KNOW.

I am not suggesting that I KNOW everything or always make the right decisions, but based on my age, my life experiences, my knowledge of the world, and my relationships with others and God, I really try to do my best.

For example, I say NO when my toddler runs out in the street to get a ball not because I want them to lose their ball but because I KNOW that there is a car coming that they cannot see.

I say NO when my kid wants to go to that party because I KNOW what might be there and how that might tempt them or get them into trouble, not because I want them to be a loser who stays home on Saturday nights with their lame parents.

Where I am going with this? I think some of you are already ahead of me…

God says NO to me a lot too.

I am His child.

He is my heavenly Father.

And if anyone KNOWS, He does!

Yet, I am really struggling with Him saying NO…just like my kids do with me.

I protest, I argue, and I state my case.

And when that gets me nowhere, I pout, scream, and refuse to listen.

Looks really familiar. Too familiar. It’s pretty sad. I am almost ashamed to admit it.

If I am able to see that my NO comes from a place of KNOW with my children, why do I have such a hard time seeing that with my relationship with God?

Why can’t I trust His NO/KNOW?

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite psalms in the Bible. It is all about God KNOWING us.

(If you have the time, please read it first.)

Here is what David, the psalmist, tells us about GOD:

God KNOWS when I get up and when lie down (139:2).

God KNOWS my thoughts, my ways, and my words before I even say them (139:2-4).

God KNOWS and sees me wherever I go (139:7-12).

God KNEW me in my mother’s womb and KNOWS all the days of my life (139:13-16).

God KNOWS my heart (139:23).

And because of all God’s knowledge, He has to say NO to me sometimes.

Do I like it? NO.

Do I understand it? NO.

Do I accept it? NO, not always.

I am more like my kids than they realize (let’s keep that between us, okay?).

I am on a journey. You are too.

I want to go my own way.

I want to do what I think is best.

I want to travel down certain paths.

But God often has other plans. His answer can sometimes be NO.

Not because he wants to steal my joy, limit my experiences, or keep me from things.

It is because he loves me and KNOWS what is best for me…even when I cannot see it.

So, the question I need to ask myself is this:

Do I trust His NO is for my good?

Romans 8:28 tells us:

“And we KNOW (emphasis added) that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Here’s my challenge not only to myself, but to all of us who may be struggling with NO today:

When God’s answer is NO, trust His KNOW.

That is what I am asking my kids to do, right?

I think I can do my best to take the same advice. I hope you can too. 

For more, follow Carla's blog At the Crossroads