Today I had to do something few parents take pleasure in. I had to say no to one of my daughter’s fondest dreams.
I don’t want to reveal what the dream is, since that would be divulging what she has told me in confidence. But she went so far as to look up some businesses who specialize in making this “dream” happen, and we went to talk to one of them.
They were smooth. They knew all the right things to say. They made my daughter feel like she was the best thing that had walked across their threshold in many moons. And then came the price tag. And after that, the pressure. They told us to get back to them by 1 p.m. tomorrow and let them know, or our opportunity would be gone.
I’ll admit it. I wasn’t completely sucked in, but partially. Every parent wants to believe that their child is a shining star. And when I looked at her and saw her eyes sparkling with excitement, I wanted to say yes. Oh, how I wanted to say yes. I told the people that we would go home and think and pray about it.
I dropped my daughter off at her soccer practice and finally got some downtime to myself, where I was able to examine my heart and listen for God’s voice. It didn’t take long for sanity to return, and for me to realize that we simply couldn’t afford it, and that it didn’t feel right.
The worst part of it was the prospect of picking her up and telling her “no,” when I’d sounded pretty positive about it an hour and a half before. But then the Lord spoke to me, and gave me His sound wisdom, which I knew I could present to her. (I’ve found that when He gives me His wisdom, my children are a lot less argumentative when I speak to them, than when I’m operating on my own knowledge and wisdom.) He told me that He would never approve of something that I would have to go into debt for. If it was something He approved of, He would provide the funds. Period.
When I picked up my daughter, she looked excited to talk about it. Then her face fell when I told her that it wasn’t good news. I broke it to her in the car on the way home, and she offered a half-hearted argument, then fell silent as the tears streamed down her face and she turned her body toward the window for the remainder of the drive.
My heart ached for her. It was one of those times when I just wanted to “hang up” my God-given responsibility of being a parent. Instead, I told my daughter that every loving parent wants to say “yes” as much as possible. But sometimes, they simply can’t–or won’t–because a “no” is the best answer.
It made me think of our Heavenly Father. Like every loving father, He wants to say “yes” as much as possible. He loves to see us with stars in our eyes, and it hurts His heart when He has to say “no” to one of our heartfelt requests, especially when we don’t take it well. But His love for us is so great, that He’ll say “no” to us in the interest of giving us a better “yes” down the road. We have to believe that and trust it.
When He says “no,” He isn’t withholding good things from us. He’s simply keeping us from going down the wrong path, or accepting less than His best. He’s waiting for the perfect time to give us the perfect gift. On the other side of God’s “no” is always an incredible “yes.” Sometimes you just have to wait for it.
Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)