Today was a big day for me. I said “No.”
Saying “no” is not something I’m good at. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is probably one of my biggest downfalls. My children might not agree, especially when it comes to answering questions like, “Will you buy me that? Or “Can I please just have cake and ice cream for dinner?” – but that’s another topic altogether.
The kind of “no” I’m talking about is different; it’s more about me and less about the person asking the question. The kind of “no” I can’t seem to utter comes immediately after someone asks a favor of me, or needs my assistance, advice, input, or direction. I simply cannot say no.
Or so I thought.
Today though, I did. Today I said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t. Not at this time.”(and yes, I realize that by including “at this time” in my answer it leaves the door open for later on down the road, but that’s what I wanted. I wanted her to know that today’s “no” might be next year’s “yes”.) I came to my decision over the course of week and after prayerful consideration, which is exactly what the person asking the favor of me wanted me to do. “Please don’t’ answer now, just pray about it,” she told me over the phone last week. I cannot tell you how much peace that brought me or the amount of calm it brought into the decision making process. I thought to myself, I wish everyone that needed something approached it in such a thoughtful manner. Anyway…back to the “no” part.
When I saw her this morning I knew she would want an answer, and I trembled. I honestly didn’t know if the words of my heart and the words that came out of my mouth were going to match up! Do you ever do that? Think and feel one way and then say something completely different? In other words, I hoped that when I saw her in person, I would be able to stick to the answer I knew in my heart I had to give.
“Have you had a chance to pray about it?” she asked me. The beauty of her question was that it took the burden off of me and placed it on God. Because I had prayed about it and the answer I came to was “No,” then who can argue with that? Thank you God for wanting to carry our burdens for us! Am I right?
“I have prayed about it and I’m going to have to say ‘no’ for now. I can’t at this time,” I sheepishly replied. It’s not that I didn’t want to help out, because I truly did. But I knew that by saying “Yes” to one more thing right now it was going to mean sacrifices would have to be made. After analyzing my schedule and seeing the things on my plate that already have my full commitment, adding one more thing would have left me spread far too thin to do anyone any good. You see, sometimes we have to say “no,” even to good things. We just do.
Much to my delight, the woman was more than understanding. In her eyes I could see a sincere understanding and an appreciation for my honesty. Between her words and her actions, I knew she did not resent me for my decision. On the contrary, I could tell she was proud of me for seeking counsel from the Great Counselor himself! It was a beautiful moment, even though she had no idea what was happening for me on the inside. Truth be told, if she could have seen inside my soul, she would have seen shackles breaking and angels rejoicing. I felt so free.
But even though it was freeing, it’s not to say I will adopt a “Just Say No” policy to all future requisitions. It did, however, prompt and encourage me to ask for time and to pray through my decisions before hastily replying “yes” to everything thrown my way.
I don’t believe in coincidence, so later in the morning when a different woman in my Bible study class mentioned an acronym for the word “busy,” I knew God was speaking directly to me. I knew he was reaffirming my decision to say “no, not at this time.”
All we were doing was answering a study question. This question in particular pertained to being “complacent” in our daily lives, and being typical women, our discussions jumped around a bit before landing on “being busy.” That’s when God, through the woman’s comments, spoke to me: “You know, I always think about the acronym Being Under Satan’s Yoke when I find myself taking on too much.”
She was right. Satan wants us to be busy, even if it’s busing doing good things. He delights when our minds are so stimulated we can no longer hear the still, small voice. He relishes in our hectic daily lives that revolve around rushing from one practice to another, from one event to another, from one meeting to another. We have a very real enemy that doesn’t mind us “committing,” even to church activities or charitable causes because if we do enough of it, it keeps us from seeking power and sustenance from Christ. We begin to work in our own strength, sacrificing our health and family for the good of the cause.
Being busy is just a part of life any more. And while I don’t think it’s necessarily a sin in and of itself, if we allow it to consume us, it can be. Being busy can divert our attention away from the most important things and direct it to just about anything and everything else.
Friends, today I hope you will slow down and listen. Listen for the still, small voice that, if you will allow it to, will direct you in your decisions and will help bring more peace into your life. If you’re not the praying or believing type, that’s okay. I would urge you, rather than hastily saying “yes” to everything that comes your way, instead really think about and analyze what and to whom you are replying before giving your answer.
Trust me, saying “no” when you need to will free you too! Be blessed, friends!