If You Can’t Say No . . .

I was talking to someone not too long ago who was frustrated and annoyed by a situation that she felt was kind of shoved on her already-full plate.  She didn’t have the time, money, or desire to follow through with an event that she was already not looking forward to.  However, for everyone else involved, her acquiescence (inability to say no) takes any hassles off their shoulders and makes it even easier for them.

How many of you know exactly what this gal is going through?

You’re a SAHM with a couple kids at home.  You’ve finally adjusted to a routine you’ve been working on since your first-born was born 4 1/2 years ago.  You’ve finally figured out how to brush your hair and teeth before noon and the dog once a week.  You’re finally completely at peace and with joy in your role as a mother, wife, and lover of God.  Then, your frazzled friend from your MOPS group decides to start losing weight and getting healthy.  You’re happy for her and offer to help (you’re thinking about offering nutrition advice or healthy recipes and gym recommendations, she’s got something different in mind).  And in the same time it takes to blink an eye, she takes you up on that–by asking you to watch her kids three mornings a week so that she can go to her spinning class.

Your mind is screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” and you think she must see your bulging left eye from the pressure of your internal resistance.  She must be out of her mind.  Doesn’t she know I’m busy enough with my own kids to even consider taking on more?  Furthermore, if I wanted to take care of someone else’s kids, I’d put a sign in my front window advertising daycare services–I’d charge.  Is there a sign in my window?  I think NOT!  And on the internal dialogue goes; all the while, you politely smile, your eyes remain unbulging and calm, and you feel your head nodding in ascent.  “Well, I’ll have to look at my schedule.  I don’t know what my calendar says.”

“Great, I’ll give you a call later this afternoon and we can work something out.”  And off she goes with a bounce in her step and without batting an eye.

Meanwhile, all you can think is that you can’t believe that you just might have agreed to watch her crazy kids three mornings a week, already lamenting the loss of peace that you’ve just learned to maintain in your life and now you realize you’re about to lose.  If only you hadn’t decided to go to MOPS this morning!

So, the only thing left to do now is complain to anyone who seems interested enough to hear and has nowhere to run and hide, AND is sure not to run into your MOPS “friend” so that word of your unhappiness won’t get back to her, right?

You know what I’m talking about.  We’ve all had situations where we felt we couldn’t say no or it was the “Christian thing to do” even though it wasn’t what we really wanted to do.  That Christmas party at work.  Watching your neighbor’s Rotweiler.  Hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  Taking your friend to the airport, again.  Lending your sister-in-law an outfit when the last dress she borrowed came back stained and cost an arm and a leg for dry cleaning.  Serving in the nursery at church.  Whatever . . . And now your joy and peace are hiding in some far away country and they refuse to come home (as if complaining will bring them back).  I’ve been there more than a time or two myself, but I’m getting better.  Once again, not perfect, but better.

Here’s the thing, no one can make me agree to anything I don’t want to do.  They can beg or bribe or even bully but I am not required to bend over and agree to what they might be offering.  It’s up to them to handle what they’ve been given.  They can offer me a part in the solution, and I am free to accept or decline the invitation.  So if I don’t say no, I’m accepting their burden(s), in part, as my own, and I’m now considered a willing participant.  End of story.  That’s the choice I get to make.

After all, haven’t we all said about someone, some time or other, “She could’ve said no.  If she really didn’t want to do it, she didn’t have to.”  That sentiment is just as true for us as it is for the other people we’ve ascribed it to in the past.

I think many of us agree to things we don’t really want to do because we’re afraid the other person/people will think bad of us if we refuse.  So, instead, we trade their opinion for our personal satisfaction. But isn’t their good opinion of us supposed to bring us satisfaction, that’s why we didn’t say no in the first place, right?  So where’s the joy we’re supposed to have?

I guess it comes to this: we have to choose to be happy with whatever decision we make.  If we say no and they choose to handle it badly by talking about us, that’s their problem.  If we say yes to something that initially we weren’t excited about, we have to find the sugar to turn sour lemons into sweet lemonade.  Complaining will not fix it.  Mourning our choice will not make it better.  Owning our answers and making them work is the path toward joy.

Question:  How are you at saying No?

Another question:  How are you at handling the effects of it?

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,


3 Responses to “If You Can’t Say No . . .”
  1. Judy says:

    So true, I said no to Thanksgiving this year. Ray has to work and I said I am not doing a big dinner…
    selfish? maybe.
    Love to you!

  2. Jamie says:

    should I just put my name as the title of this? lol.

  3. Judy says:

    Jamie, we will want an update on how you feel about saying no and if you have alleviated some stress….

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