I watched him zip out the driveway on his resale-shopped bike, pack on his back and helmet protecting his face.
He was biking fast. And, away from home.
My heart dripped a little. But I’d rather have a bit of a mournful heart than a boxed in child who resents the lack of liberty in his home, and can’t wait to cut free.
Because in this world, we have to say no to a lot of things. Are we also saying yes to a lot of good?
Just the other night I came home to a group of teens in the rec room, eating junk food and watching a clean movie. My mothering instincts wanted to say, “Toss the junk food and eat salad. Turn off the screen and read an inspiring book, instead.” But I zipped my lips, said hi with a smile, and left the room.
I’m thinking back to the Garden of Eden, when God created all things wonderful. Perfection was laid before the two first humans ever to walk the face of the earth, and the only “wrong” thing not to have was in the midst of the garden.
God duly warned them not to eat of it, and told them that on the day they did, they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). But first, he told them about all the wonderful things they could enjoy.
Before he said no, he made certain they knew how blessed they were. He surrounded them with beauty, perfection, and life before he warned them of death.
Sometimes, I think we christian parents do the opposite. We warn much of death and don’t bring much life. The end result is unhappy kids who buck the law of our homes and often wreak havoc in others’ lives.
This is why my husband and I allow our twelve year old to bike away on a sunny day. Why we take our daughters to dance class.
This is why we bring home ice cream and drive the kids to the lake.
We want our kids to know that they are blessed, and life offers much good to enjoy. That when we say no, we also invite them to a better yes.
Because God’s no to our hearts is never deprivation—it is an invitation to better things.
All desire for forbidden things is rooted in a God-given capacity for good things. The devil takes the good and twists it into bad, but if you allow yourself the good, your heart will be full and won’t need the bad.
Your teens may desire dating, which you forbid until they are older. Teach them that this desire for relationship is God-given, then lead them to healthy, clean friendships and fun with others.
Teach them that purity now leads to blessing later. That saying no for a little while means they can say a better yes for a long while.
Teach them that watching only certain things can help them have a greater capacity to enjoy much better things. Our appetites are trained.
Mothers, be wise! Your kids need you to lead them to a better yes.
When it comes to wisdom, Jesus asks us to be wise as serpents. But when it comes to evil, he asks us to be as harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
He doesn’t just ask us to be harmless, he asks us to be full of wisdom, making the most of our time (Ephesians 5:16).
He doesn’t ask us only to die, he asks us to die so we can live abundantly (John 10:10).
See this—God always invites us to LIFE. And not only life, but abundant life.
He wants our joy to be full.
He promises that his yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30).
But we need to be all-out for him, fully engaged in Him. This doesn’t only look like denying ourselves, it means fully allowing ourselves to enjoy Himself and all His gifts. Most of all, enjoy Himself.
Knowing Jesus is rich.
The son zooms away on his bike with all the strength of youth and vigor, and in my heart, I pray a shower of blessing over his head. Let him enjoy the blessings over his life, and then, let him walk in wisdom with a better yes so fully that the no becomes distant in light of better things.
Because God is all about our blessing. And he created a multitude of good trees in the garden.