No is not a 4-Letter Word

As a recovering perfectionist


do whatever you need of her

I have discovered that no

is a word that had not been in my vocabulary.

At least not the word no to other people.  I feared uttering the dreaded no.  Quivered at the thought that I would incur the wrath of God, Satan, and Santa.  I’d be left alone–friendless and forgotten.  What I came to realize the last time I entered Weight Watchers and hit my goal weight was that I’d become alone–fat and fake.  I was so consumed with figuring out what everyone else wanted, needed, and expected of me, I lost touch with the most important person in making decisions about my life–ME!  Part of what I started to learn while Weight Watching ten years ago was that saying yes to something is also saying no to something else.  IE–Saying yes to following my points meant saying no the quantity of cookies and cakes I had grown accustomed.  Saying yes to my health and well being meant needing to say no to some of the favors and requests of others.  Saying yes to this self hidden under 40 pounds meant saying no to all the methods I attempted to silence the girl inside.  In treating no like a 4-letter word, I had treated myself (and allowed others to treat me) like a 4-letter word.

What brings this up now?  Well, a couple of things.  First, I don’t believe I am the only person who has confused no for a 4-letter word.  In fact, many of the young people I minister with and to also seem to have the same belief.  I have actually devised a sermonlette about Saying No Early and Often.  Basically, I work to reinforce that I don’t hear no as a four letter word.  I would much rather hear an honest no than a dishonest yes.  I much prefer hearing no because then I believe that your yes actually means yes.  So, there’s one reason.  Second, I have spent a year challenging myself to say yes more.  I know.  I know.  I just went on and on about the virtue of no, and here I am sharing that I’m working on yes.

But this is a yes to me.  What I have discovered over the last year and the second Weight Watcher attempt (now 5 pounds from goal) is that saying no is not enough.  I also needed to learn to say yes to me, to God, to opportunity.  I’ve spent a lot of the last 10 years alone.  Solo.  Just me myself and I.  I dated me.  Got a sense for who I was.  What I liked, what I didn’t like.  What I wanted to say no to, and what I wanted to say yes to.  So my 2010-2011 challenge to self was learning to trust enough to say yes.  And what a ride it’s been.  In one year I’ve moved twice, bought my first house, fallen in love, entered into ministry, finished a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, made it through the ordination process, planned and led a trip to India for students, developed programming, created multiple worship services, said no to work in order to say yes to family, lost 9 pounds, and run 2.6 miles a work-out session (5K soon to come).  If you were to have told me 10 years ago that I’d have accomplished half of this list, I would laugh.  Not possible.  Not me.  And yet, here I am.  So, the next time someone struggles to hear your no (and that someone might be you) stop and ponder what’s so scary about that no?  And what aren’t you saying yes to?

Quotations for the Week:

Saying no can be the ultimate self-care.–(Claudia Black)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.  There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We were born to magnify the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others–(except from Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Speech)