Two “Yesses” or One “No”…

When my brothers and I were young boys, we tried everything under the sun to get our way when we wanted something from our parents. I don’t know that we were so much different than any other boys we grew up with, but we were experts in manipulation and working our parents against one another.

If I wanted to go out and play, I would ask Mom for permission. If she said “yes”, then I was golden and out the door. On the other hand, if she said “no”, then I would go ask Dad and see if I got permission from him to do what I wanted to do. If so, I would be gone….

Eventually, when I got home, Mom and Dad would be standing there as I tried to deny that I was working both of them to get my way. There were times that I could tell that they weren’t on the same page and they genuinely had a difference of opinion as to what my brothers and I could, or could not, do. That’s when we had the best chance to get our own way. We three brothers developed this way of dividing and conquering our parents to an art form. Experience tells me that many other men of my age did much the same thing when they were growing up…

However, there were limits to what we could get away with. For example, we could go out and play after dinner with our friends – but when it started to get dark Mom would turn on the front porch light and when she did that, we better be on our way home. No grace if we missed this one. In fact, we knew that we should stay close to home so that we could see the light when she put it on. We didn’t ever mess with this rule…

But just about everything else was fair game. That is until Dad came up with the rule of all rules. Simply stated, he let all three of us know that in order to do something, it took two “yesses” from our parents or just one “no.” In other words, we had to now ask both parents, assuming they were available, if we wanted to do something. We could let Dad know that Mom had said “yes” or tell Mom that Dad was okay with our plans, but now we had to approach both of them and make sure that both of them were on board with our plans. And if either parent said “no”, we were toast… it only took one of them to veto our plans…

All three brothers hated that change of rules in our home, but in all honesty, we brought it on ourselves. We pushed the envelope so many times that it was clear that we were just trying to be highly manipulative. Dad wasn’t going to let any of his children get between him and Mom. In a way, I kind of respected his commitment to Mom. And I had to admit that his solution was very clever – I don’t know that I would ever have thought of it.

Dad had a way of doing things that were unexpected. He was a brilliant guy and although I thought I was pretty smart, I didn’t think as fast as he did and he knew me well enough to anticipate what I would be trying to accomplish. To be brutally honest, I was pretty good at thinking on my feet and now that I look back on those days, I am sorry for many of the problems that we caused our parents.

Of course, all that practice got me ready for being a parent myself. Janet and I had many challenges with our own children but I really don’t know that any of them were as difficult to handle as I was. I am curious as to whether any of them will mention this to me after they read my post tonight….. I don’t think that I have ever admitted that to them before.

My secret weapon as a parent was that I knew everyone. If any of our kids did anything even remotely wrong, and one of our friends saw it or heard about it, Janet and I would find out. It was uncanny…. and we used many of the same rules with our children that our parents used with us. By the way, Janet and I are thrilled with the way our kids turned out and we are proud of all of them – I hope Janet’s and my parents felt the same way about us. Come to think of it, I know Janet’s parents were proud of her – the jury may still be out on my parents.

Our verse for tonight is a simple reminder to make sure that we each maintain our authenticity and honesty with one another. Clearly, that is the best way to be – and the kind of relationship that the five members of our immediate family, the Christian Mafia, have with each other. Matthew, in his Gospel, tells us, in Matthew 5:37, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

My encouragement tonight is that honesty is always the best policy – especially with people that you love and care about. And authenticity breeds respect and trust – benchmarks of a God centered life. My prayer is that we will all endeavor to up our game and make sure that we will honor God with how we handle ourselves in each of our relationships. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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