On my recent girlfriend reunion at Hilton Head, Diana, our handicapped friend, was accompanied by her two adult daughters, their friend Jenny and her two daughters: Alice, five, and Hazel, six weeks. We six “grandmothers” doted on the two little girls, marveling at Jenny’s mothering skills, especially since she had been on her own since she was 15. Parenting had not been modeled to this young woman.
On our third day, Diana rode her motorized scooter to the girls’ suite. She returned to tell us that Alice was in “time out,” but Jenny let Diana visit with the youngster after sharing that Alice had not obeyed. Apparently Alice almost had been hit by a golf cart that ferried customers along the boardwalk on which they were walking. Alice had ignored her mother’s instructions to stay to the right.
Diana asked Alice to explain why she was in trouble. Repeatedly jabbing her index finger at her head, she said, “I sometimes don’t listen.” After a short pause she added, “It’s just really hard, you know.”
We six could relate. With months since our last get together, most of the time there were two or three conversations at the same time. Alice was right. Listening is hard.
Another incident occurred the next evening when youngsters were given glow-in-the-dark necklaces. The following day at the pool, Alice loaned hers to her playmate who did not return it. The next day, Alice’s new friend was wearing the necklace. When Alice said that she wanted it back, the young girl replied that Alice had given it to her. A girl squabble ensued with the other mother insisting she give Alice back her necklace.
Once Alice placed it around her neck, Jenny took her aside. “Don’t you think it would be nice for you to give it back? We can get you another necklace.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Alice answered firmly.
Jenny continued. “Well, I want you to sit here and think about what you just said. I will be back to talk to you when you have time to reconsider what you should do.”
To no avail. Alice insisted it was her necklace, so she should not give it back.
Before walking away, Jenny gently responded, “I want you to know that was not the answer I had hoped you would give.”
We grandmothers were in awe and admitted the outcome for our children would have been far less loving. Jenny was teaching Godly principles. Without getting upset or raising her voice, she gave her daughter choices, with clear direction that what Alice had decided was not the best option.
God does the same for us. He gives us choices. We either obey or not. There is no middle ground to His instructions. Love Him above all else. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Don’t lie, covet, dishonor parents, or steal. Make Jesus the Lord of our lives.
It is up to us to decide if we will listen to His instructions, but should our choice be not to obey, God’s advice probably would be no different than Jenny’s: “That is not the answer I had hoped you would give.”
If that doesn’t help us change our minds, I don’t know what will.