My one and a half year old son’s favorite word is “no.” Raise your hand if you are the least bit surprised. No one? Shocker.
Sometimes it’s a subdued “nah” when I ask him if he wants to finish his dinner. Hey, at least he’s polite about it. Other times, it’s straight out of a scene from Jurassic Park. You know, the one where the Tyrannosaurus Rex chases after the Jeep? Except I’m being chased by an insane toddler who is SO mad that I won’t allow him to play with the broom (#meanestmomever). While I appreciate your desire to sweep, child, you are making a bigger mess and I’m going to have to wrestle this out of your hands later and then you’re going to throw the most epic tantrum ever, thankyouverymuch.
But I digress…
It’s interesting how easy it is for a young child to say no.
It’s black and white; either they want to do something or they do not. And you would think that it should be just as black and white for the rest of us…but it’s not. In fact, there are so many gray areas that cloud what could be a simple black and white moment.
Thinking back on the last few months, there were several times when I really did not want to do something and I knew that if I responded with a polite but straight-forward “no,” with no excuse or explanation, I would really offend someone. When I really think about it, the only time I can say no without too much thought and reflection is when I’m talking to my son — because it’s about teaching and about boundaries, and he only understands black and white.
So, why is it so hard to say no? Why is no an unsuitable answer?
Individually, and as a society, the word “no” conjures negative reactions. There is always that underlying feeling that you “have to” do something in order to keep a friendship or maintain a relationship, even when you really don’t want to or you fear the repercussions of saying no.
And let’s be honest, fear is the biggest player in all of this.
The fear that your friend will never speak to you again because you didn’t want to do something they wanted to do. The fear that people will judge you if you don’t volunteer to help out with a fundraiser, even though your week is hectic.
Not only do we deal with these issues when it comes to saying no, but we also have to wage the war of “no” against sin.
Some of us are battling against fleshly desires. Some are battling false gods in their lives, swayed by sin and deceit. And some are lying to themselves, thinking that they are in control and that they don’t need God in their lives.
It’s hard, guys. It’s hard to say no when it looks so tempting, when sin seems to make the most sense. And again, there’s that underlying feeling of fear. Fear of the unknown and the what-ifs and the missed opportunities.
- What if I say no to someone and that person was “the One?”
- What if I don’t make money a priority and I end up with nothing?
- What if God really doesn’t exist?
It’s an emotional, spiritual rollercoaster, and not the type that we enjoy. So, what do we do? How do we win against sin?
In order to move past the negative, several things need to happen.
One, you need to let go of your fears and recognize that you have the right to graciously say no.
If you are doing something begrudgingly to pacify someone, or out of fear that something bad will happen if you say no, you are not doing it for the right reasons.
Two, you cannot control people’s emotions and reactions.
You can say “no” with sincerity and a bit of humility, with the understanding that you have done your best to be honest and gentle. It now lies on the other person’s shoulders on how they choose to react.
And three, turn to God and His Word, especially when the battle against sin becomes too difficult.
Lean on His Teachings and recognize that while we are all flawed and weak, He is not. Our faith in Him is our best defense. God sent his only Son to die for our sins. And God will continue to win that war against sin.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” – 1 John 5:1-5 ESV
Saying no will never be as easy as it was when we were little, but the great news is that we are not alone. Don’t go into your battle without armor. God’s Word is your sword and your shield.
Kimmie Plummer wants other women to know they are not alone. Her life is perfectly imperfect, filled with coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. She spends most of her days with her best friend & husband, Ryan, and their sweet little boy, Everett, playing with trucks and singing her best impressions of Elmo. When she’s not singing (off-key) and playing trucks, you can find her at Target, trying not to buy the whole store. Follow her on Instagram at @kplummahhh.