“Gotcha nose!” Dad would say as he pulled his half-covered thumb away from my face. I’m not sure why that was funny when I was a kid, but it was.
Others have tried to take away my no’s over the years. My kids tried it sometimes. They didn’t much like hearing no when they wanted to do something fun, like seeing what the hair dryer would sound like under water.
“Hmmph,” they’d pout in response to my no’s. “You don’t love me!”
Of course, I did love them. That’s why I didn’t let them drop an electric appliance in the bath. They just resented not getting their way.
An age-old ploy of adolescent boys seeking sexual favors from girls has been a similar no’s pulling. “If you loved me, you’d let me,” they plead. Smart girls don’t give up their no’s (or anything else).
Adults play the no’s pulling game with each other, too. An increasingly frequent complaint about conservative Christians is that we are unkind and unloving because we say no to some things that are commonly accepted. If we say no to homosexuality, our position is equated to racism - a denial of civil rights. If we say no to cohabitation before marriage, we’re called ignorant and repressive. (The name-calling doesn’t sound very loving to me, but that’s another story.)
Saying no is not unloving. In fact, sometimes it expresses the highest level of love – love that seeks what is best even when it hurts. A few years ago, the movie Passion of the Christ provided a vivid, somewhat gruesome portrayal of the incredible suffering of the savior. It’s worth remembering that his suffering came as the result of God’s resounding no to his beloved son.
Aware of the horrors awaiting him, Jesus prayed with passion “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39).
But God firmly said, “No.” Did that mean that the Father did not love his son? Was he being unkind? No, his love for the rest of us made that no necessary in spite of the pain it brought.
As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, "We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is: discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons."
Sometimes the most loving thing we may do is to refuse to let someone take our no’s.