I play with words for a living. Words are the offering I pour out in ministry and the currency with which I live my life in everyday interactions with others.
There are few moments in my life that don't involve words and the exchange of them. So, I guess you could say I'm a person who knows many words and uses them well. But there is one word that trips me up constantly. It's small, yet powerful, and ever so hard for me to say.
Two letters. If I could learn to use this word more frequently I would save myself a lot of stress and heartache. For some reason, though, no is a word that gets caught in the back of my throat and has to be choked out most of the time.
I am a perpetual over committer. Just when I think I have a handle on my schedule and balancing the various areas of my life I find myself double booked, running too fast or doing too much.
Take this last week, for instance. I was checking out at the grocery store when I realized I didn't have my wallet. The thing is, super organized people like me don't forget their wallets. It was a warning sign that I was doing too much at once.
This morning I went to change the laundry and I absentmindedly took the clean clothes out of the dryer and threw them back into the washer because I was busy writing this post in my head while I went about my task.
My twice washed laundry was an invitation straight from God to start saying no to some of the things that are cluttering my life and making me crazy. Not even Jesus said yes to everything He was asked to do, so why should I think I'm any different?
Since saying no is such a problem for me, I recently set out on a quest to learn how to do it well and, honestly, how to do it without feeling guilty. Saying no always disappoints someone. So how do I know when it is worth rocking the boat and when I should just suck it up and do what's asked?
The reality is that saying no is really saying yes. Saying yes to one thing automatically means saying no to another. So I have to determine what I'm saying yes to - what's most important to me - in each season of my life before I can determine what I'm saying no to. If my no is rooted in a greater yes then it will be a stronger no and it will be easier for me to make peace with my decision and stick to it no matter who gets disappointed along the way.
For instance, if you are committed to getting fit and healthy and you need to go to the gym early in the morning in order to do so, it becomes easier to say no to a TV fest with a big bowl of ice cream when your roommate asks. Since you've already said yes to health and fitness - the thing that is ultimately important to you - turning down a late night full of extra calories becomes easier.
If your ultimate commitment is to remain a virgin until you wedding day, then it becomes easier to avoid giving into temptation with your boyfriend in the heat of the moment. In fact, it becomes easier to avoid even being in a situation where the two of you are tempted to compromise.
Yes is easier for me than no, so figuring out what my greater yes is in each situation has allowed no to flow from my tongue a little more freely. In light of my crazy week I've slowed down enough to say no effectively - and without guilt - three times in the last few days. Each time it felt freeing because I knew that saying no was really saying yes to the people and things that are most important to me.
If no is hard for you, start by saying yes. Find the things that are most important to you and go from there. Starting with yes makes it so much easier to say no.
Try it. You'll see.
"Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 2:11
"Above all, my brothers, do not swear - not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned." - James 5:12
Shannon Primicerio may be good with words but that doesn't mean she's skilled at Scrabble. While she enjoys playing the game she often loses. You can learn more about Shannon and her writing at www.beingagirlbooks.com/blog
© 2010 by Shannon Primicerio. All rights reserved.