I’m a self-proclaimed rebel. Most people wouldn’t know that about me but I tend to furrow my brow at orders. I tend to go against the grain. Born smack in the middle of the Baby Boomers and the Generation X, I don’t fit in any generational category. I like to be in control. I can conform and obey even when I “know what’s good for me” but I don’t typically respond well when I’m told what to do… or what not to do. My mom can confirm this. My husband can too but he probably shouldn’t if he knows what’s good for him.
As a child, I was not a fan of being told to practice the piano for 30 minutes each day but let me play on my own and I could go for hours. When I get an email that says “DO NOT DELETE THIS EMAIL”, what do you think I do? I immediately delete the email. I don’t even read it – unless it’s from my mom which I can’t imagine her doing but if she did I’d read it, reluctantly, but I’d read it. If I’m trying to eat healthy and tell myself I can’t have the Snickers bar, guess what? I am utterly obsessed with that darn Snickers bar and notice every store I pass by as one that sells Snicker bars. If you tell me I need to believe a certain way, I will always question. If you tell me I have to behave a certain way, the people pleaser in me will probably comply but my insides won’t want to.
Did you know that the Chinese language doesn’t have characters for the words “yes” and “no”? We learned this when we lived in Singapore. The Cantonese characters used for “yes” and “no” actually translate to “it is” and “it is not”. We heard “can” and “cannot” often. A “can you do this” question was answered with a “can” or a “cannot” not a “yes” or a “no”. “Do you want to go eat?” would be answered with a “can”. Always a “can” because no one I knew in Singapore would ever turn down a chance to eat!
What do you do when someone says you can’t when you know you should?
I’m not talking about things that people say you can’t do that you shouldn’t do. Of course you shouldn’t drink too much or do drugs. Those are absolutes. I’m talking about things you are called to or dream about or that are a part of who you are, something you truly feel is God’s plan for your life, that somehow gets squashed along the way.
Over the course of my life, I’ve been told many times that I couldn’t do something. Whether it be for my own good or whether it be out of meanness or whether it be from pure ignorance. Somewhere along my journey I somehow heard that I couldn’t dance, couldn’t have fun, couldn’t laugh, couldn’t feel this, couldn’t think that, couldn’t sing, couldn’t write, couldn’t be a good mom or a good wife or a good daughter or a good friend.
Did someone ever tell you that you shouldn’t dance or write or speak or stay married or get married or parent that way or wear that or read that or sing that or say that or believe that? Sure, there are probably times when it’s not socially appropriate to break out dancing but we can dance in our living room whenever we want. Perhaps we can’t belt out a tune in the middle of the grocery store but it’s not like it’s illegal.
We hear so many “cannot” messages. Maybe they are spoken in real words or maybe they’re just implied. Sometimes we listen and take it to heart and sometimes we rebel (which isn’t always a negative, btw). When the message is heard repeatedly over a long period of time, we tend to start believing it. It is so much easier to believe the negative messages than the positive. It is so much easier for us to hear the “cannot’s” of the people around us than the “cans” from God.
What do you do when YOU tell yourself that you can’t when you know you should?
God told Moses to deliver a message. Moses argued. Somewhere along his journey, he bought into the “I can’t” messages.
“Moses objected, “They won’t trust me. They won’t listen to a word I say. They’re going to say, ‘God? Appear to him? Hardly!’”
Moses raised another objection to God: “Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.”
God said, “And who do you think made the human mouth?
Exodus 4 (The Message)
Seriously, if you doubt your abilities to pull something off right now, go read the whole story. The conversation between God and Moses is riveting! We can argue all we want but God can make a way and He most certainly IS going to get His way. He can use Moses. He can use me. He can use you.
Maybe I’m writing this for you but I needed to hear it today as I, like Moses, have been instructed by God to deliver a message soon at a ladies retreat I’m speaking at. I’m not qualified. I am not a speaker. It’s not my job to figure it out. It’s my job to prepare and show up. Satan is beating me up with ALL the “you can’t” messages. This is where the rebel side of me works to my advantage. If I know God has called me to something, I only have to trust and obey.
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey.
~John H. Sammis, 1887
We might catch some flack. We might encounter the pain of someone close to us not being supportive. We may need to press pause for a bit while we work some things out or we may need to press ahead with full steam. What I know is that God has a plan and He WILL accomplish it. Somehow.
Here’s a “can’t” for you… We can’t give up on what He has called us to do.
Trust and obey.