The "No Jar"
As a parent I have tried many different approaches to discipling my children. I have used sticker charts, extra tv time, and other reward systems. When my daughter was younger she did not like to be told "no" about anything and if we are being honest with ourselves none of us enjoy hearing that word when we want something! It became such a problem that even if she asked me an obviously no answer type question such as, "Mom, can I have ice cream before supper?" and I responded with "No" it did not matter how gently or calmly I said it, she would have a melt down! So, at the suggestion of a behavior therapist we created the "No Jar." It was just a plain old jar and we had a small container of beads that sat next to it. The deal was if she accepted the word "No" without throwing a fit, then she could put a bead in the jar. If she did not accept being told "No" then she did not earn a bead. Once she had a certain amount of beads in her jar she could choose a "prize" out of a bag of dollar store items that I had previously bought. Everytime she earned a prize out of this bag she would see the other items in it and that seemed to give her a little more motivation for the following week. We did this for about 6 months and finally she had taught herself an appropriate way to respond to being told no. We found out that my daughter is a very "black and white" person-she was hearing "No" and thinking it meant NEVER! Once we talked to someone and she told my daughter not to think of "No" as "Never" but maybe as just "not right now" that seemed to help her accept being told no. The therapist was also firm in pointing out to her that sometimes my daughter would be told no because that is a part of life and her parents had to say no in order to protect her or to help her to be a better person. It was not an easy road, but it was worth the time to teach this important life lesson to my daughter. In Philippians 4 it says; "I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13 Having contentment with being told "no" or "not right now" is never an easy thing to do. What have you prayed for but did not receive? A new job, a new home, a soul mate? When we pray for the things that we think we need, God does hear us, but like a good Father He knows what will make us complete and serve His will. God's grace is free and it is what shapes our relationship with Him. If we are always seeking for "something" to make our lives "better" or more bearable, then we will never be content. It is when we first seek God, accept His grace and allow Him to direct our lives that we will be truly content. I imagine God's "No Jar" up in heaven sitting next to His big white recliner with a large basket of beads near by and each time one of His children obeys His will or asks for His guidance and strength to get through a trial in their lives He gets to put a bead in His jar. The great thing about His jar though, is that the "prizes" or "rewards" that we will receive are eternal and given to us through His son Jesus Christ not from the dollar store. When God tells me "No" I try to accept that His timing is not my timing. However, we live in a society that demands immediate results or satisfaction from whatever it is we request. Faster internet service, faster service at a drive through, and even a Sunday service that doesn't last more then an hour! We as Christians have to realize that God is not our "on demand" answer man-He is our Father who will contemplate and deliberate on every request He receives from His children. He will take His time in answering us or maybe He will choose not to answer us right now or He may even tell us no. In verse 12 of Philippians 4 it says; "I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens..." You might be asking, "What is the secret?" "Please-someone tell me!" I don't think that this secret can be summed up into a one word answer. If you listen closely this secret is being whispered to you and I through God's grace and His greatest gift to us, His son Jesus. Do you hear it? Listen now, God is whispering to you....."My strength is enough. My strength is enough." I pray that you will rely on His strength and true contentment will be yours. Blessings-