Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Using Our No, Believing His No

When Jada first started being able to pull herself up to a standing
position, we pretty much had to be right behind her to make sure she
didn't fall backward onto her head, fall sideways onto a hard corner,
or grab onto something that would fall on top of her. Now that she's
a little sturdier, we don't have to be right behind her, although we
do have to keep a watchful eye on her. So we're starting to use our
words to warn her of dangerous places and dangerous things to touch.

Admittedly, part of this is that we're too tired to go over to her and
pull her away to a safer place. But part of it is the evolution she
needs to go through, to learn for herself how to play safe and avoid
things she shouldn't touch. So let's say she's grabbing for a lamp
that, if she shakes it hard enough, will topple over. As soon as she
touches the lamp, one of us will say in a stern voice, "Jada, no."
She will turn around, look at us hesitantly, and reach back for the
lamp. We will repeat our warning: "Jada, no." Sometimes she will get
the hint and move onto something else. If she persists, we whisk her
away from the area and put her someplace else. The trick is to keep
her safe, first and foremost, of course, but also to give her enough
room to learn for herself that certain places and things are to be
avoided.

It occurs to me that this is how God is with us sometimes. He doesn't
often make it physically impossible for us to go to dangerous places
or touch no-no things. He wants us to hear His warnings and gradually
begin to heed them. As Jada learns to look back to us to see if we
approve, as she learns to steer clear of precarious places, I will be
sure to consider how I am sometimes myself in Jada's position morally
with God; and as I hope Jada will learn to trust my "No," so I would
do well to hear and believe God's "No."
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