Nancy Reagan drilled it into our minds so hard it became a joke. Once the War on Drugs started, we were in it. Soldiers, dutifully wielding the only weapon given to us - our words.
We grew up and never lost our mantra. At times, it is still a joke. "Step away from the chocolate. Just say no."
Exhausted multi-taskers are re-learning the thought in a trickier fashion. We have to say "no" to nice people instead of drug dealers. The people who ask us to take on one more scoop of potatoes (or activity) when our plate (or life) is already full.
I think the tide may even be turning for those nice people, now too. There has been an upswing in the current that flows with the banner, "Make sure you take time for yourself." Many folks are stopping for coffee and going to the gym instead of signing up for for the volunteer activities that are pursuing us. Or maybe that's just me.
But now, we need to bring back the "Just Say No" battle cry one more time - for the sake our own kids. Wake Nancy up - she'd be on the same page, I'm sure.
We need to just say "no" to our kids.
No to stuff they don't need.
No to stuff they didn't earn.
No to one. more. thing.
We've got the peer pressure problem all over again, only we think we're doing something good for our kids by helping them fit in. This isn't news. Just as it made no sense to jump off a bridge when everyone else was doing it before, it still makes just as little sense to push our kids off the bridge when all the other moms are doing that today.
Why do we need to?
I, for one, would like my kids to grow up as unspoiled as possible. If we give them everything their hearts desire, I don't believe they will appreciate what it's like to get something you truly want. Even beyond that, if we make our kids work to get something they truly want, they can better understand the value and purpose of work. How awful would it be for us to give our children everything during their childhood, then to throw them into the adult world where it really doesn't work that way?
I had to teach my daughter this lesson just this week. She agreed to take care of a friend's dog for a day. But later that day, she had the opportunity to go out for a fun activity with her other friends, missing a feeding/walking time for the pup. I covered her responsibility for her, but when the friend came over to reward my daughter's effort with a candy bar, I did demand my share of that candy bar. Not because I wanted the candy or even because I didn't want her to have the candy. Just because I wanted her to understand that she made a choice to not fulfill her duty, and so she did not earn the full reward.
Why is it so hard for us to say "no" when we know it is the right thing?
Why are we not recognizing the "kid pressure" as the same circumstance we were in when we faced "peer pressure?"
When we were teens, maybe we stood up pretty well to those offering us cigarettes (or worse). But maybe it was hard for you. Maybe you had visions of the "cool" people making fun of you, in those awful days when we had no idea what cool really was.
And now, as adults, what are we afraid of? We're afraid, essentially of the same thing, that our kids won't see us as "cool parents." Or possibly we are afraid that our own children will suffer our fear - that their friends will tease them for not being "cool."
Since it seems every kid has to have the newest toy.
Or video game.
Or see the latest movie.
Or stay up to a certain bed time.
Or have the exact same lunch as their friends.
Keeping it in perspective, we find the same rule applies: No two kids are the same, and therefore, no two kids have the same needs. We must keep that in mind. And sometimes that explanation helps ease the disappointment.
And remind them that even though we say no some of the time, they have probably had more than enough yeses to make up for it all.
I know you remember that commercial from years ago. But what do we remember it for? Hating that woman anyway.
Let me start off by saying I am not a size-0 model, not a size-2 model, not even a plus size model. Hey, I'm not a model! But people still look at me, even if I'm not in a magazine. People look at you too, no matter what you think. We're people. We look at other people. Go figure.
But while we are looking, we are making judgments too. About each other and ourselves. And we are assuming that when it comes to the way we look, the same rules apply to everyone.
Don't listen to everyone else. (But since that includes me, finish this post at least before you stop listening to me.)
I'm a firm believer that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may not think you are beautiful, but someone else might. Someone else is not staring at your face or body LOOKING for problems, like you are when you look in the mirror. So if someone pays you a compliment, don't tell them that they are wrong. They do not see what you see.
That is nothing new; you've heard it before. Now for the flip side of the coin.
I've been cringing lately at all the "just be yourself" jargon. Plenty of well-meaning do-gooders are out there to tell you that being overweight is just as good as being super-skinny. (You'll notice I said, "good" and not "beautiful." I already addressed beauty above, and I don't want to go back to it.) Women are shunned for wearing make up or treating acne and lauded for rolling out of bed into some sweats.
People go on "secret" diets. They sneak shamefully into drug store aisles to look at weight loss and beauty products. They hide in the corners at the gym so that no one will notice that they aren't perfect. Or that they almost are.
We have done that to them.
I like to run and ride my bike for many reasons. And yes, one of the reasons is because exercise helps me look my best. Do you know, I have had people shame me for adopting that reason? People tell me I should be happy with the way I am.
To an extent those can be helpful words. God made me a brunette. It isn't a punishment, so I don't need to repent of it. I will stay a brunette. God made me a woman. I will stay a woman. However, I do not have a thyroid problem, I have a problem saying no to sweets. So God is not the one who made me overweight.
Here's the fact. At times, I have overindulged in sweets, and the consequence was that I became less than the healthy person God intended me to be. My consequences were: gained weight, lower energy, and poorer complexion. But that was how I made me, not how God made me.
Here's what I am saying. Don't be yourself. Be who God created you to be. You make mistakes. We all do, and that's a fact. Some of our mistakes affect how we look. Don't shrug them off, FIX them!*
What does the Bible say?
Song of Solomon-
A love story between a man and his new bride. It was all about the joy they each took in one another's bodies. So, if I want to naturally bring my body to look the best it can for the purpose pleasing the husband God gave me, it seems to me that God tells us by way of this too-often overlooked book, that He's okay with that.
The book of Esther was about a woman who saved the Jewish nation because the king found her beautiful. Yes, her courage to approach the king was the most noteworthy aspect of her character, but she would never have reached the king's presence to do so unless she had the king not seen her as attractive in the first place.
Outward Beauty IS Secondary to Inward Beauty-
I can't completely put those do-gooders down. A lot of times their message, which gets lost in interpretation, is a good one. Groom your character before you worry about your face. People definitely see others as ugly if they are mean-spririted, greedy, haughty, and so on. However, the trick is to improve your character BEFORE you work on your outer beauty, not necessarily INSTEAD of it.
Don't be vain-
This one is VERY important.
What is vanity? Thinking about yourself, plain and simple.
Go ahead and fix the way you look, because once you've done the best you can with what you have, YOU STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT.
After I had my children, I was sad about the weight I had put on (in addition to just the baby-weight). I thought every day about how much I wanted to lose weight. So finally, I did. I lost about 30 pounds.
Now, I rarely think about how much I weigh. My weight might go up a little, it might go down a little, but I do not think about it every day. And that is one less time in the day that I am thinking about myself instead of thinking about God.**
Don't let anything come between you and your relationship with God.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off
everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. (Hebrews 12:1)
And that's the bottom line. Throw off everything that distracts you from God. If not looking your best makes you depressed and keeps you from freely worshiping God, do something about it. You do not have to accept the way you are because someone keeps saying you should be happy that way no matter what. Fix the issue and move on.
Do what it takes to be a person full of thanksgiving and giving glory to God.
*Note that I am not saying to go about this in an unnatural way. I don't believe in weight loss pills - I believe in diet and exercise. I don't believe in cosmetic surgery, but I see nothing wrong with a little make up to draw attention to the beautiful features God did indeed give you.
**Even though I don't think about my weight everyday, there are other things I do that keep me from thinking about God all day. I had to make this note so that you did not think I am perfect and have got this all covered. I, by no means, do!
Passion Under Grace,