Responding (Not Reacting) When the Answer is “No”

9731139389_f244ca7b9c_z“And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised.” 1 Chronicles 17:23 (NIV)

When I was coming into my teen years, I remember observing exchanges between my peers and their parents. My friend would ask for permission to go here or there to do this or that. The parent would say “no.” My friend would blow up and start arguing. The parent would dig his or her heels in and the argument would escalate. In the end, my friend would  never have won the argument, the parent would be even more pissed off and distrustful of their child than they were before, and nothing of any positive value resulted from the argument.

Mulling this over in my mind for a while, I made a decision not to argue with my parents. If they said “no,” when I asked for something I would not argue, complain, roll my eyes, throw a tantrum, or indicate that I was angry in any way. I would simply respond “okay,” and walk away. It was a conscious choice not to react to my natural emotions but to willfully respond in a predetermined way. Sometimes I would walk to my room, shut the door and vent my frustration in private, but I vowed not to let my parents see me rattled. I’m sure I didn’t have a perfect record with my willful compliance, but I did pretty well.

I remember the first couple of times I did this I could see my mother brace for an argument and the surprise when I simply said “okay.” I could imagine her confusion and wonder, thinking “Wow, what’s up with him?” as I walked away. In the end, I think my strategy had a positive effect in a handful of ways. Things were more harmonious at home without the arguments. Because there was less escalation of arguments there was less of the regular punishments that came from yelling or being defiant with my parents. While I can’t quantify it, I also think my parents became more likely to say “yes” when I asked permission because of the way I handled their “no.”

I thought about that this morning as I read of David asking God to let him build a permanent temple in Jerusalem to replace the tent (or tabernacle) that the nation had used for centuries since the time of their wandering under Moses. David’s response was “Okay.” He didn’t throw a fit. He didn’t get angry. He didn’t rebel. He praised God, he thanked God for blessing him in so many ways, and he went along with the plan.

Today, I’m thinking about my own attitude and response to God when things don’t go my way. I think that perhaps I sometimes act as if I have forgotten the lesson I learned in my youth. I wonder if I’m a more petulant child with my Heavenly Father as an adult than I was with my earthly parents as a child.

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One thought on “Responding (Not Reacting) When the Answer is “No””

  1. 23 “And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever.

    Interesting events unfold in the chapter. First, David feels compelled to build a “home” for the ark. Second, through a third party, David is told that he won’t be the one to build it. Third, David’s son will be the one to build it. Most importantly, fourth, David submits to the authority of God and agrees that God’s plans are best. Wow! I can learn from this.

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