Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
Something has been on my heart for a while. Can we talk? Woman to woman? Friend to friend?
This is all stemming from a local bible study that I am doing with some precious friends. We have been learning how to create margin in our lives. Margin creates peace and it invites God into our days, weeks, months and years. Margin allows for God's plan to shape our days instead of our own agenda's.
Creating margin can be difficult for many of us though. Margin means having to "say no" to things. To people. To opportunities.
I don't remember ever taking a class or being taught how to "say no". Except in my health class. We learned to say no to drugs. :)
Saying no can be incredibly difficult for women.
Why is this?
Why do we feel as if we lose our importance, likability, or reputation when we decline an opportunity? Why do we feel like we have to say yes to everything thrown our way?
After diving into this study and studying the Word of God regarding this matter, I believe the root of our "Yes" can be from the enemy.
I know you are thinking, "what??" What does the enemy have to do with our yes' and no's?
Let's go back to the Garden of Eden.
Satan tempted Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. God had forbid Adam and Eve to eat from this tree. This was the ONLY tree that was forbidden for them to eat from.
Crafty and manipulatively, Satan lures Eve to the tree and even question's God's commands.
"You will not surely die", the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil." Genesis 2:4-5
Oh, don't you see the manipulation? The flat out lie that Satan whispers to Eve?
You know the rest of the story. Eve says yes. Adam agrees. And the fall of man kind happens. To this very day, Eve's "yes", affects our everyday lives.
What if Eve would have said, "no"? Or at least, "Hmm. Let me pray about this decision."
Do you think the story would be the same? I don't think so.
You may be thinking, "seriously?' What does Eve eating that fruit thousands of years ago have to do with me and the decisions I make each day?
More than you can imagine.
The decisions we make affect us, our husbands, our children, our friends, our churches. Our decisions ripple to everyone around us. For the good or the bad.
Our decisions also affect the wellness of our soul.
If we don't allow ourselves margin, time, and prayer, we end up creating a big fat giant stress ball of a mess. For us and our families. We also drown out God's voice because the busyness and the noise make it impossible to hear His gentle whisper.
As I ponder this thought of saying no, I ponder the root of my own personal reasons for struggling with saying no over the years.
I find it's really easy to say no to some people, but not so easy to say no to others.
Here's what I have discovered....
The ones that are harder to say no to, I have had repercussions with after the no was given. For example: The cold shoulder, a negative remark, a disdainful look, an unwarranted opinion from them regarding my decision.
I then, due to wanting to make it better, begin to over explain my decision. Even making things up at times to make it seem reasonable that I had told them no.
Ummm. Hello. Anyone else find this to be crazy madness? I mean, we are grown women here. Why do we stammer and stutter instead of just saying our answer.
Why do we do this?
Why can't we say no with resolve and confidence?
Now let's spin this around. What about when we are the recipient of the answer "no"? How does it rattle us and affect us?
I wonder what would happen if we began to show each other grace when we receive a no.
If we have so counted on a "yes" from someone that we put the pressure on them to perform what we NEED them to do, or where we NEED them to be....we need to take a look at our hearts. Our ambitions. Our attitudes. Our expectations. Are they selfish?
What if we chose to follow this verse when we are faced with someone saying no to us...
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Phil. 2:4
How about if instead of throwing guilt on each other when we are faced with a "No", what if we said these things:
I understand completely.
Thank you for even considering this request.
I want to honor and respect your decision.
I admire that your family comes first.
You do not owe me a explanation. I trust that this is the best decision for you and your family.
*And to say them with a smile on our face and gentleness in our voice. NOT in a sarcastic tone. ;)*
What would happen in this world if we as women could resolve to treat each others in this way?
What if we learned to appreciate, value, and respect each other's time enough to be able to show grace and love when we are disappointed?
Speaking of saying no....
A few months ago something came up. We were asked as a family to be somewhere. After talking to my husband about it, we gracefully declined.
However, my heart and my flesh were so so torn! I almost went against the wishes and desires of my husband and "our" decision, just to make this person happy. I was willing to risk the peace of my home, my marriage and my family, because I didn't want to tell this person "no".
I followed through with the no, and I know that I disappointed this person.
However, many times in my marriage, I have gone against my husband, just so that I would not have to tell the person asking a request "no." In my mind, that person liking me and thinking highly of me was more important than my husband's decision and wishes. Yikes.
Again, there is a pattern. My desire to be liked and my need for approval from people, came in between my marriage and my family.
The enemy is all over this, friends.
The enemy will whisper lies so subtly into your sweet ears that you will find it difficult to know the difference between a truth and a lie.
He will say things like:
"you are not a good friend if you don't do this"
"you know they will be upset with you if you say no"
"you don't have a good enough excuse to back out, so you may as well say yes"
"you are not a good momma if you don't do what everyone else is doing with their kids"
"people will pat you on the back and tell you how wonderful you are for taking on this task"
"people will think you are super-mom if you add this to your already full plate"
"you are lazy and need to be involved in more things, so you need to say yes"
And the lies go on. And on. And on.
Do you see the common thread here? Satan is an accuser. He tells you things that are contrary to God's Word.
Don't fall for his tactics.
How do we do this?
Go to His Word.
Read the book of Proverbs.
Be thoughtful in your decisions.
Sleep on it.
Pray through it.
Seek wise counsel before making commitments. [if you are married, seek him first!]
And, if we are on the other end of that decision...the one asking....
Let's remember to be supportive if we receive a "no". It is okay to be disappointed, but that should not affect our kindness and grace that we show in response.
If we really are to have other's interests at heart above our own, as scripture says, we must be intentional about our grace. Intentional about the words that come out in response to our disappointment.
I'm really going to work on this. Will you join me?
working on saying no & showing grace with a smile on my face,