You know what they say…
The word no is typically a bad thing. And I’m speculating here but could it be that the word no is more than what its usual negative connotation suggests.
Usually, considered a baby’s first word mainly because they hear it far more often than anything else. We probably understand no and stop before we understand yes and go.
It’s a weird conundrum that children learn to understand it quickly then, somewhere down the line, some of us have a hard time forming the word with our lips. And we hate, even more, to hear it from someone else. There’s just some really bad, and I believe, incorrect, feelings connected with this small word. We tell people no means no to stop them from doing or saying something. We tell people no as a way to avoid something or someone or, simply, turn down an offer or request.
But I like to think of no as a fence. It provides protection: keeps things in and stuff out, and gives caution. For children no provides safety when paired with don’t eat that or don’t run in the street. It’s a precaution we all have taken for survival. We all have gotten to where we are based off a no whether literally or figuratively. Nothing, and I mean nothing, worth having is ever easy. So no keeps us trying and coming back, especially if the no is driven by struggle and yielding an end result of success.
Personally, I don’t like the word so, when I received a no from God it was every thing but good. The only thing worse than being told no by a person is being told no by the one who controls the universe. It was something I believed he wanted for me. I prayed, fasted and spoke it into existence as often as I could. Deep down, I really believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wanted, no, desired that for me.
Events in my life started to add up to what I believe my destiny was. People started to call me and encourage me in the thing I had been praying for. Everything started to fall into place. I had done what I believed God asked of me. I felt good about my future and what I thought was his plan for me and then…
It felt like the opportunity slipped right through my fingertips. It felt like I was being thrown a party I never got invited to it. I was a bride left groom-less at the altar.
I was so confused, “God, I thought you wanted this for me. I thought this was your best for me.”
Then, my confusion turned to devastation, “What am I gonna do now?”
I had everything riding on that one thing so, because I believed it wasn’t in God’s plan for my future any longer I started to plan my own. I didn’t stop to ask God why or what happen or even say, “okay, I trust you. What do you want me to do next? Is there something I missed and how did I miss it?”
The no didn’t force me to try harder it floored me. I definitely couldn’t see the good in it. To me, that no was a bad thing because I couldn’t see bad associated with the opportunity taken from me.
But every time I think I have God figured out he shows me my knowledge of him is only finite. Because I really despise being told no (I’m not spoiled, I promise) I figured it was the end of the road – no more options for me. And so I gave up and stopped trying. I started churning my wheels in a different direction, opposite of what the no suggested. None of those efforts availed, however. I had to let this no teach me some things I hadn’t thought of before.
For me no always meant a problem. It was always an issue if someone told it to me because it meant I wasn’t allowed, I didn’t have what it took, or I couldn’t receive what I wanted. But with age comes wisdom (hopefully) and now no can have several possible meanings and my personal favorite (rolls eyes) is wait (to know why I’m sucking teeth and doing eye rolls read For Those In Waiting.)
I realized this tug-of-war with God was him saying ‘not yet’ or ‘you’re not ready.’ Could it be that possibly God was preparing me? My lesson in no was a precaution against what could have possibly been bad for my future. What if I got what I wanted and then regretted it? What if I began to believe I did all that on my own and completely forgot about God in the process? What if I got what I wanted but found out, much later, that it wasn’t what I needed? What if it was too much for me mentally? I am going into a graduate program in the fall (yes! as I raved about in Celebrate You!) and I’m sure the work load will be pretty rigorous. I have yet to get a routine of working full time and going to school time so too many new things at once can become problematic. This lesson in no forced me to see the bigger picture.
God challenged me to view no differently. And even though I didn’t get what I wanted (right now) I know God’s best is far better than what I could ever want for myself.
Friend, saying no isn’t always a bad thing and being told no isn’t all bad either. Think twice before going to buy those new jeans. Think twice before agreeing to join another committee at church, take on another project at work or enroll your child into another program after school. Having too much on your plate has its own set of negative consequences. Being comfortable with saying no is half the battle. Being comfortable with receiving it is a whole different story.
Honestly, no isn’t always a bad thing, it keeps us from danger and, quite frankly, keeps us sane.
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