I’m a people-pleaser. The last thing I want to do is to let someone down.
If you need a house full of boxes moved, and you ask for help, I’ll likely be the friend that shows up to do the heavy lifting. If you broke up with your boyfriend for the eighth time this month, but need someone to hold your hand at 2:30 in the morning and tell you it’s going to be okay, I’ll be there.
Why do I do this? Because I find it easier to say “yes” than saying “no”.
A friend of mine held me firmly in place in front of her, one hand on each shoulder, so that I could look her in the eyes as she told me that it’s okay to walk away, it’s okay to let people down sometimes, and it’s okay to say no.
This was yesterday and I fought back the urge to ugly cry as I stood at the back of the worship center following the 10:00 service.
My schedule has become increasingly difficult to manage lately, and with the emotional wreck that I’ve been over some messy things with relationships and my faith, I’ve not been doing a whole lot of smiling. And she noticed.
“I firmly believe that if God is backing something He will make it work for all of those who are involved, but if it is not right for you right now, then it’s okay to walk away. And I firmly believe that if it is a decision of man, then there is the potential that it will fail, especially if it is not in line with God’s will.”
I nodded and willed the tears to slide swiftly back into their ducts.
I’ve taken on too many responsibilities. Sure they are all responsibilities that look good and even beneficial when written on paper, but sitting in my heart is a no that is waiting to be expressed at just the right time. I have been wanting to say it for nearly a year, and I almost did a few months ago, but out of the desire to please and a sense of obligation, I held back.
Annie’s letter, Saying No, holds some hard truths, but uses some of my favorite passages from literature:
She first shares one of my favorite Bible stories, from Daniel 3; the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and the courage that they had standing up to King Nebuchadnezzar. Those are some insane names (especially if you have to fingerspell them while interpreting in sign language), but what follows in her letter stopped me dead in my tracks.
Sure I have a hard time saying no to certain things because I’m afraid of letting others down. But what if God told ME no? Am I willing to accept this let down from Him?
“I know what God can do, but even if he doesn’t, I still won’t worship idols. I will still worship the one true God.”
Can I honestly say that no matter what His decision is on my marital status, the vacancy of my womb and the dreams I have for my future, that I will still worship and serve Him alone? I want with every ounce of my being to say YES to that question, no matter how many NO’s He provides.
Then Annie applies one of my favorite poems to this story of the crazy named guys who were throw into the furnace.
“That’s the choice they made, the no they said. It was brave, but in the moment when the road split and they could go left or go right, they took the road that said yes to God but no to the easier way.”
They “took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.
All the difference. That’s what Christ’s promise of salvation has done for us. It has made all the difference. We could go on living a life filled with fear of failure, a fear of letting others down, or overwhelming ourselves with obligations.
Or we can say yes to Him, allowing Him to fight our battles, and have the assurance that no matter what our future holds (including potential nos to things we desire most), it will be worth all the difference.