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05. Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

'Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.'

This is something your mum used to say, right? No? Your dad then? No?! Grandparents?? Wow. I wished I'd lived in your house. But let's just assume, for the sake of the story, that most people's parents, or other grown-ups, have said something along those lines at some point in their lives. Well, I'm sorry to report that, now I'm a mama, those words have actually fluttered from my lips. To be fair, they’ve been spoken to me too many times for me to remember, and usually by my husband.

Sure you can eat that 1kg bar of chocolate... But should you? Really?

Learn from Phil’s mistake and don't ask that question of your spouse.

There are plenty of things in life that are perfectly permissible but that doesn't mean we should get involved.

  • Some years back, a friend of mine wrote on social media that they were going away on holiday, posting photos of the entire family on the beach in Saint Lucia and announcing they were away for two weeks.

They came home to a burgled house.

  • Cloning dinosaurs. A good idea? I think not.

  • Just because you have a mobile phone doesn't mean you have to have it with you all the time. No one said the thing has to be permanently attached to you. Nomophobia is, in fact, a recently coined term to describe the fear of being without your phone, without phone signal, or without a fully charged battery. A sign of the modern age, perhaps.

  • Skinny dipping in the North Sea. Just because you can...

  • I was with some friends at university, hanging out, you know, as you do, eating pizza. A group of the boys decided to challenge one another to add jalepenos, whipped cream, strawberry jam, mustard, and peanuts to the pepperoni topping. Like trojans they down them in one, and whilst no vomit ensued, you could tell it wasn't the best experience of their lives. Looking at them the following morning it had clearly been a long night.

  • Don't abuse your position or power.

  • Thinking of having that second dessert? Of course you blinkin' well should!!

Cartilage and Bananarama

The family rule was that I had to wait until I was 15 to have my ears pierced. It's possible there's some, now lost, mediaeval English law which prevents pubescent girls from punching holes in their ears, but it's more likely that my mum came up with it the very first time I said I wanted to have my ears done. For me, it was like a coming-of-age thing, a rite de passage that I absolutely had to sail through in order to be acceptable and beautiful. I was so annoyed that I had to wait. Mum thought if she delayed me long enough I'd change my mind, but this lovely woman who birthed me somehow forgot about my rabid tenacity. As I envied the twinkling lobes of the other girls in my year group, sparkling like a cluster of supernovas, I could only dream of the day when I too would shine like a diamond.

And so the day came. My moment to arrive! Some weeks after my 15th birthday, Mum and I headed to the salon to get my ears pierced. Honestly, I can't remember where we went or tell you the story in any great detail, except to say that there's something very disconcerting about having a stranger that close to your ear lobe wielding a marker pen and something resembling a pistol. The faint smell of Dettol was vaguely reassuring, but as I sat rigid on that tall, vinyl bar stool I realised I was making a HUGE mistake. What was I thinking?! Sharp things were my all-time nemesis, and yet here I was like a lamb to the slaughter at the hands of a barbarian who was about to shoot me in the side of the head in order to make me look pretty. Whack! The crunch of metal through cartilage made my stomach flip sideways. No way of backing out now. No self-respecting Bananarama fan would stick with only one piercing—double five-inch hoops were absolutely vital to my metamorphosis from dull to desirable, especially with Robert DeNiro waiting backstage, and after that second crunch I knew I'd made it. With regrets, sure, but I'd made it. I walked out of that salon with my earlobes numbed by the February freeze, each one throbbing like a cartoon thumb hit by a hammer, but I knew I'd made it. I. Was. A. Diamond.

At age 22, I removed those hoops for the last time and didn't replace them with anything. The holes sealed, the dreams died. That was that.

Proceed with caution

I'm not suggesting for one minute that we resign ourselves to a life that is boring, predictable, and safe. That's not at all what we're here for, despite how so many people picture western Christianity. Trust me, this way of living is not for the faint-hearted. Not in 2,000 years has any Christian skipped through forests with arms outstretched, surrounded by Disney-esque creatures and tinkling music, singing that life is always easy and beautiful and without any of that pesky stuff we call pain. And if they have, they're liars. Or insane. The fact is, in this crazy country, you have the right to do anything you wish. Wider than that, God created each of us with the free will to choose exactly what we will and will not do with our lives. Small decisions to large, we have the right and privilege to choose.

It’s true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us. I’m free to do as I choose, but I choose to never be enslaved to anything. — 1 Corinthians 6:12 (TPT)

As I recently read, there's no question that problems arise when we see our decisions as separate from our bodies or too small to impact our lives. If we want to honour God with our bodies, we have to first honour Him with our decisions, and in honouring God we so honour ourselves. Be assured that small decisions have eternal impacts. God's best for you is found on the other side of every decision, large or small. Just because He blessed you with the freedom to do it doesn't mean you should, and going where you should not can be very costly indeed. Remember that you were an expensive purchase, the ultimate blow-out, that cost Jesus everything, and He paid it because He believes you're worth it. Worth the blood, the sweat, the tears, the pain, the separation. Worth it, because you are His.

So, dear friend, include Him in the small things, and see Him work in the big. The scars in my earlobes serve to remind me that, despite what I say, I don't always know best. (But don't tell my mother.) Take my advice: Don't give anything of yourself away lightly, remembering always that God's best is best for you.


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