“Mom, would you let me wear eyeliner and mascara?”
This was the question of the day from my oldest daughter when she was in middle school, somewhere around 12-years old.
Without thinking and with no hesitation, I responded “Sure, when you turn 16!”
Where did that age come from? I still ask myself that same question every day. I know I spit it out so quickly because I used to hear my mother tell me that. If you’re in your thirties and beyond you know we didn’t question momma back then. Whatever she said went. So I assumed there was some rhyme or reason.
But nope! It’s an arbitrary number…at least it was in my home.
Arbitrary is the only word I could use to describe it. The magic number was definitely set ‘based on a random choice or personal whim.’
The last couple of months have reinforced the idea that I need to be more careful with setting arbitrary boundaries. Here are the specific lessons learned:
1. Mindless decisions made on a whim may hinder preparation. Sometimes, if a decision is made on a whim, there is no opportunity to prepare yourself for the outcome. This isn’t the case for all decisions. But when a quick decision is made without much of a thought process, it makes us much less equipped to know what to expect. Have you ever heard of the 6 P's? Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. When we spend time thinking through the situations that come into our lives and praying for God's guidance, we are able to handle those situations. Of course, there will be some situations that we cannot plan for. However, that should be the exception, not the rule. Consider Ephesians 6:10-20. If we are dressing ourselves in the full armor of God daily, we will be in the best position of preparation. Don't mistake this. It doesn't mean that we will escape the pains of the process. It simply means that we will expect them and will be ready when they come.
2. Mindless decisions may not always account for the situation at hand. Sometimes, we make decisions based on the information readily available to us at the time. Not totally problematic. However, what happens when we fail to account for future possibilities? After all, things don't always remain the same. Your experiences and opportunities will not be the same as those available for future generations. Prime example: I was raised in the inner-city with public transportation at my finger tips. From my perspective, there was no need to drive. The circumstances were different many years later. Her driver’s permit was in hand before her 16th birthday so actual practice with driving…a real car…was on the horizon. The goal was to have the full license just 120 days after her birthday. My anxiety started to kick in big time. My entire system went into shock. My emotions were all over the place. I completely missed the warning signs. I expected her to remain in her infant stage forever. There was too much to handle all at once. Don’t let this be you! Remember, God's ways are higher than our ways. If we follow Psalm 119:125, we can acknowledge our roles as servants unto God and request discernment of the understanding of His statutes. In other words, He will give us direction of his will for our lives and that of others around us. As long as we give Him time to direct our paths, we will be able to account for the things yet to come.
3. Mindless decisions may cause too many things to activate all at once. When she asked me about wearing make-up, I was not paying any attention to other adolescent transitions such as driving and dating. I felt like a Mack truck hit me right on the eve of her 16th birthday. Everything was happening all at one time. The joys of adolescence were upon me. She was transitioning into a new phase of life, whether I was ready or not. When I was a middle school and high school student, I asked my mom about wearing make-up and dating and was told that I could when I turned 16. My mom lucked up because by the time I turned 16, I was no longer interested in make-up (and sadly didn’t have anyone to date). I expected that I would experience the same luck with my daughter. But no! Not only did my sweet girl study make-up like it was a subject in school but she ordered a few essentials and had them delivered to the house for arrival to occur just before her 16th birthday. She already had plans to get her official driver's license and was planning her parking spot for her Junior year (which was still six to seven months out). And as my luck would have it, the request to go on a date quickly followed. I couldn't believe so may things were happening all at the same time. What happened to the idea of handling things one at a time? Wait just a minute, was I trying to blame someone else for my ignorance? It sure sounds like it! But stand firm in the belief that God will not give you more than you can bear. He just wants you to lean on Him. None of these teenage behaviors were new or foreign concepts. I just didn't properly equip myself. But baby, let me tell you...I am ready for the next two. I refuse to be caught off guard by quick, arbitrary decisions.