Yesterday’s devotional discussed what happens when someone approaches us and wants something. They have a request or a reasonable opportunity for us to be helpful. Instead of saying “yes” to avoid a conflict or the uneasiness of their disappointment, we sometimes need to say “no” for the right reason. One of the major obstacles we have to saying “no” rests in a major distortion embedded in our psyche. Drum roll please. The distortion: saying yes = the loving response; saying no = the mean response.
Someone asks for something, humbly admits they need your help. Agreeing with them by saying “yes” … being like-minded and avoiding conflict … are considered to be the nice response. Answering in a way that allows the requester to leave feeling “good” is what most would stamp as the loving response. As a kid, we never picture a loving mom as the one who says “no”. We always picture the loving mom as affirming, positive, nurturing, saying “yes” to requests for more attention, hugs, kisses, toys, food, or one more story before bed.
NEWS FLASH: saying “yes” is not always a loving response. Example: Say your 12 y.o. son convinces you he has great driving skills, is responsible, awesome with bumper cars and go-carts, and now wants the keys to the car to go hang out with his friends. Your loving response, regardless of how hurt, angry, sad, or belittled he feels, needs to be “NO.” Same if my 9 y.o. wants to stay up ‘til midnight on a school night. My incredibly loving response is “NO.”
We know kids make dysfunctional, shortsighted, and potentially harmful requests as they seek immediate gratification, and that they are unable to foresee long-term consequences. Realizing “no” is in their best interest and is the most loving response (even when our kids cry) is pretty easy for most parents. The problem comes when adults make requests. We assume adults know what is good for them, have thought it through, and make only healthy responsible requests. We think saying “no” to a healthy, functional adult request would be unloving, or withholding love.
BIGGER NEWS FLASH: Adults don’t always make functional requests. You must have awareness, discernment, and a view of the bigger picture to know whether it is a healthy or dysfunctional request. The cool part … after you put some thought into deciding if it is a healthy request, saying “no” to adults becomes as easy as saying “no” to the 12 y.o. requesting car keys.
So today, start developing the discipline of discerning healthy requests from others. Also, practice saying “no” to requests. Or at least say, “Maybe … let me think about it.” When someone says “no” to you, stop and think whether your request was healthy. Don’t assume you are the perfect one who makes healthy requests all the time. Most importantly, dig and find why you feel pressured to say “yes” or why you are afraid to say “no.” Your decision, choose well.
Dear loving God, thank You for being an example to me as You answer “yes” to my requests at the right time and answer “no” to my other requests at the right time. I ask You to continue the work You started … growing in me the mind of Christ, so I can see others’ requests through Your lenses. Give me the courage to say “no” when that is the most loving thing, and not to fear sad or angry responses, or hurt feelings or negative opinions. I pray in the name of the One You sent to teach me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children said – AMEN!
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'”