Nora Jean is one feisty chick. She comes by it honestly, as she is the progeny of a whole line of feisty chicks. Take her grandmothers, for instance. A super-energized nurse who raised three kids while her husband flew for the Navy, and then the airlines. The other grandmother is a super-energized chick pastor, who raised two kids while her husband flew for the Navy, and then the airlines. (That is not a typo. Both grandfathers are Navy/Airline pilots. Imagine the odds of THAT happening!)
And then there is her mother, the feistiest of the feisty-clan. SHE kicked cancer, danced in a 46-hour marathon 9 months after her last chemo, got two degrees, and is raising three kids while her husband flies for the Navy….oh Nora Jean, you are surrounded.
So it is absolutely no surprise that at age two, Nora J can express herself with great clarity. They took her and her less-feisty brothers to a restaurant called The T-Rex Cafe. T-Rex is a bigger-than-life venue of pre-historic trees and vines, loud animal noises, dark spaces, and oh, yes…a ginormous T-Rex and his friends. Nope, said Nora. Nope, nope, nope, and if you didn’t get my meaning, let my shrieking do the talkin’. So without even sitting down, they exited.
Oh, but wait! Nearby is the much gentler Rain Forest Cafe, with quiet waterfalls, monkey sounds, and lush foliage. So in they went, and out they came. The same dark, immersive environment was also not to Nora’s liking, and the volume of nonononononono was actually heard in the gift shop next door.
As her mother took her outside to see if a little explanation and cajoling might help, Nora took her mother’s face in her hands, looked her in the eye, and said, “I SAID dNO.”
Matthew 5 (The Message)
33-37 “And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.
Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
Let your yes be yes and your no be no, like a boss two-year-old!
It is interesting to see how The Message applies this to religious talk. How many times do you say to someone, “I will pray for you,” and then never do? Peterson calls that “religious lace.” In other words, we can see right through it. Worse, so can God.
I think there is a lot of smoke-screen-religious-speech happening right now. I would hazard a guess that there has always been a lot of it, if Jesus was addressing it over 2,000 years ago, calling it an issue that is “embedded deep in our traditions.“
We should strive for clear, accurate communication that is free of manipulative words that we use just to get our own way. Let us stick with the truth, and stop trying to making ourselves sound more religious with unnecessary embellishments. God calls us to mean what we say, and say what we mean.
Let your dNO be dNO.