A few days ago, I sat at the kitchen table knee deep in brainstorming and researching for a consulting client of mine. As I sat there, I heard the rumble of feet from the basement stairs. The voices we excited and high pitched. I braced myself. I knew what was coming. My girls had talked. They had a plan. They were on their way - mission focused - to convince me of whatever was in their little hearts to do. I could feel my shoulders shrugging up closer to my ears almost as if I hoped my shoulders would cover my ears and I would not be able to hear the persistent petitioning that was about it ensue.
As the chatter came closer my mouth practiced, "no, nope, not gonna happen, not today". I had a premeditated answer to their question, based on my assumption of what their upcoming question may be.
There they stood. One on each side of me. I stared intently at the tablet in front of me, pretending to be focused on my work. I deliberately ignored the heat from their bodies pouring on me and their heavy breathing from their quick footed run up the stairs. I mean honestly, how could I really ignore that?
Then came their question, "Mom, can we have a play date with Ava?" I knew it! It was exactly as I expected. They wanted something from me that was outside of my plan for the evenings agenda.
Within a split second their question made its way through a filter. A mental filter I have since titled, "The Easy Filter". My premeditated response dispensed at the end of the filter, "No". "No ladies, not today." Of course, the first "no", was not quite acceptable. Their tenacity for having a play date persisted and I ended up saying "no" approximately 52 times.
Then came the EVER PRESENT follow up question, "but why not mom?" They have asked me "but why" more times that I can count, possibly as many times as there are grains of sand on the ocean floor. But this time that question, "but why" probed my heart. It was a Holy Spirit poke, asking, "really Stephanie, why not?" I did not have a reason, no good excuse. The only thing standing between their question and my yes was the "the easy filter" that lives in my brain. The "easy filter" kept me from saying yes more often to my kids, because what they were asking would require more of me, or my attention. Their requests often would require me to shift my schedule, or heaven forbid interrupt my plan for the day.
So, this time, after the 52 "no's", I said "yes". I gave in. I gave in because it hit me that my "no" was based on my comfort and convenience, and not based on a legitimate reason. It was not based on my kids experiencing joy and living life fully.
Earlier that morning, I read from Psalm 55, a Psalm of David. This Psalm was written about the time when David's son Absalom was trying to hijack his kingdom. This Psalm poured into my mind when the girls ran out, slamming the door elated for their play date with Ava. They were elated over my "yes".
As I sat with my thoughts, watching them scurrying into the backyard, I recognized that I, like David, wanted to run away, and hide from what was hard and uncomfortable. I wanted to hide from what was not on my agenda. David was comfortable and life at this time was convenient as he rose in stature becoming the beloved leader in Israel. Absalom's decision revealed David's desire for comfort and status quo at this stage of his life.
I don't know about you, but I can totally relate to these verses. There have been so many times when I want to run away and hide, to bury my head in the sand and avoid dealing with all that is broken and hard around me. Running away was David's "easy filter". It was the way he could say "no". It was his way of remaining comfortable. Running away is a tactic of convenience.
The part that troubles me about these verses was the last line, "I would stay in the desert". Those words prodded my heart and forced me to ask myself, "do I want to stay in the desert?" My choice to run & hide, to ignore necessary change, to make frequent use of the "easy filter", to have a premeditated "no" for any question that may challenge my schedule and agenda, means that I choose comfort and convenience over being open to whatever God has. Comfort is stifling.
This encounter with my girls is daily, but this day was different. Since then - only a few days mind you - I try to approach each question they produce, each opportunity to say "yes" with fresh eyes. I try to remove the pathway to my "easy filter" and look at the bigger picture outside of my agenda and to do list. It has not been smooth or perfect by any means, but it is a work in progress.
How about you? Do you seek comfort, convenience and ease over the little things that require some effort and may challenge your schedule? Are you so glued to your to do list that you have become a "no" first person? What would happen if you started saying "yes" more often? How would your family dynamics and friend relationships change?
I hope that the Holy Spirit works in your heart like he has begun with me to reveal the source of and the reason behind your "no's". Praying your eyes are opened and you are encouraged to walk into a deeper relationship with Christ this week.