The Love in Saying "No"
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
It’s time to take a walk. The three youngest boys and I have cleared the lunch mess. Shared devotion. Squeezed in a chapter from a favorite read-aloud, too. Now it’s time to hit the pavement. Even our two greyhounds know the routine. They see the boys searching the sun porch for shoes, and they know it’s time to go outside.
But Sis, our sweet greyhound girl, cannot go. She’s sprained her shoulder and the vet told us that rest is important. Sis needs to be still. Her walking papers have been revoked. She doesn’t understand. She hobbles on three legs and leans into me. Even though she’s in some pain, her tail swings in hopeful cheer.
“I’m sorry, Sis,” I say. “You cannot go.”
She presses in. Leans harder. Pants a bit to show distress.
“No, sweet girl,” I say. “You have to stay.”
I lead her to the living room, help her settle on her cushion, then walk through the kitchen and close the heavy door.
My sons and I zip jackets and anchor Flash on his lead. It hurts to leave Sis behind, and the boys open the kitchen door and storm inside and Sis gets a bounty of ear scratches and tummy rubs and kisses on her warm, soft nose. But in the end, the door closes again. And as we walk down the hill, we see her standing in the window. Watching. Longing. Not knowing that this restraint is only meant for good.
And I think about my relationship with God. Often I run to him, leaning in, hopeful, wanting something, even a good thing, and the Lord, in his wisdom, says “no.” I’m sorry, daughter, but the timing isn’t right. I’m sorry, child, but this isn’t in the plan. I know that this is painful now, but it’s best for you in the end even though you cannot see.
The boys, Flash and I have walked along the river and now we’re climbing the hill in front of our house. I notice, as we walk past, that Sis is no longer in the window. She’s probably curled on her cushion, tight as a pretzel, deep in want for her favorite thing.
I hope that she can trust me.
It takes a lot of love to see a longing heart and speak a gentle but firm “no.”
Help me to trust you, Lord. Especially when you say “no.” Amen.
A child’s gift reminds a mother that our transgressions are long forgotten. We’re seen as clean and new.