Saying No

How ironic is it that toddlers frustrate their parents so much with their obscenely frequent use of the word no? Meanwhile, the answer adults wish we’d give more often is no. The same two letter word our toddlers have mastered, we can’t muster up the courage to use. Saying no is a skill to develop that takes courage, honesty, and maturity about one’s authenticity, availability, and passion.   

Why is it so difficult for people to say no? If you are one of them, you are among great company. Lots of folks struggle with no. I get it, people don’t want to disappoint, hurt feelings, feel the finality, or sincerely don’t know how to say no. Others don’t say no because they like to be in charge, in-the-know, feel busy, wanted, or needed. Maybe many don’t say no because of the still, quiet space it may bring for a season or the grief & sadness that can go hand-in-hand with a no. Whatever the reason, lots of people in our culture have an extremely difficult time saying no.  

The problem occurs when our yes begins to look like a no. When we don’t have the ability or courage to say no, but lack the passion, skill, availability, or desire to continue on, it will become noticeable. For many, saying yes in these situations means avoiding the awkwardness that can come with a no response. (After all, the no can be sent later in an email, when they are no longer face-to-face with someone.)

I remember an older minister telling me…

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I spent several days last week wading through the deep waters of another woman’s sexual harassment and stalking experience. There were pages upon pages of typed notes, collections of years of trauma and psychological torment. They were raw and vulnerable-- her tattered story stripped down to only the worst parts. I read every word… over and over and over again.

I never would have imagined a decade ago this woman and I would be such close friends. It was an accidental friendship that began with

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Watching Your Faith Go Up in Smoke

I watched in horror with those all over the world as Notre Dame Cathedral burned and smoke billowed into the air. One of the oldest and most famous cathedrals in the world, it was erected over 800 years ago but took only a few hours for the great spire to topple like a child’s block tower.

As the fire burned, unscathed by the water cannons flooding the structure, virtual onlookers began to speculate if the building would be totally consumed or if enough could be saved and rebuilt. I felt a visceral reaction coursing through my body as I stared into the screen watching the church burn. It was a physical manifestation of what I’ve felt for the last decade. Sounds horribly dramatic, doesn’t it?

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