“I am for you.”
That’s what I tell my 12-year-old daughter after a long day and after we’ve flopped down onto the overstuffed blue couches to pray and to chat before bed.
It’s probably what I’ll be saying often for the next few years as she steps into the teen years.
Maybe it seems like some days I’m against her.
I tell her what she can’t have or what she can’t do. She carries home yet another flyer advertising yet another activity and I remind her that her calendar is already dripping with ink from her doing so much.
She talks about movies, books, songs, apps, and sometimes she’s the one left out. She doesn’t know that band. She hasn’t read that book. Maybe we won’t let her see that movie.
This is hard. This is her coming to grips with what it means not to fit in, what it means to miss out, what it means to let things go even when others around her indulge like it’s no big deal.
Of course, she’s a good girl. She’s not asking to attend wild parties or drink or do drugs or even watch a PG-13 movie. That’s not her.
Still I explain it that night to her as we relax on the sofa in a moment of quiet, and I hope what I say sinks deeply down to the needy parts of her heart:
I am not against you. Even when it feels like I’m against you because I’m not giving you what you want or what even feels reasonable or what other people get. I’m never your enemy and I’m never out to hurt you or deprive you of what is good.
No. I am for you. Always. Because I love you. And it’s because I want the very best for you that sometimes I have to keep you from the second-best, or even what seems “good,” or perhaps what we both know isn’t right or true.
She nods her head in understanding for now.
I hope the understanding lasts. It probably won’t, not all the time. I’m sure I’ll be echoing these words again and again, if not to her, then to her siblings.
It makes me marvel at God really, because He knows how I feel. He knows what it’s like to be the parent having the hard conversations, building the unpopular boundaries, saying the “no” that a child doesn’t want to hear.
In Romans it says:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 ESV)
And the Psalmist wrote:
Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me (Psalm 56:9 ESV).
God isn’t for me because He gives me everything I want.
To says God is for me means His heart, His passion, His desire is for my ultimate blessing and my ultimate good. He wants the best for me, even if it feels uncomfortable at the time because it’s not what I wanted or what seemed easy or appealing.
He knows what’s truly good and what I truly need, and that’s what He’s going to be doing in my life, directing, guiding, pausing, saying “no,” and saying “yes.”
So, as my daughter shuffles off to her room for bed, I sit for a moment with God. It’s as if He nudges me with His elbow to say, “See? See what I’ve been trying to tell you?”
God isn’t against me when I don’t like His timing.
God isn’t against me when I long for the blessing He doesn’t choose to give (or when He gives it to someone else and not to me). Even if we feel sometimes like everyone else His favorite because He so readily gives to them the things He withholds from us (and what’s that all about, anyway?).
God isn’t against me when my plans go awry or His plans don’t seem to make sense.
God isn’t against me when I experience injustice or hurtfulness.
God is for me.
He is for you.
It’s a matter of trusting His love for us, trusting Him enough to love us well and love us completely and to believe it when we read, “no good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11 ESV).