We’ve all felt it… The gut wrenching, inexplicable feeling that tells us exactly what we should answer. We’ve all heard it… the booming voice in our head that screams “NO!” Every part of our body and mind is shouting “NO!” and somehow, we hear ourselves answering “yes” or “okay” or “sure, absolutely.” We walk away, we drive home, we lay awake in bed that night and stress about what we’ve just committed to, what we just agreed to do.

The word no often feels abrasive. No is one of the words we hear most often as children. No is rarely the response we long to hear. When I tell my nephew Grayson “No, you cannot play with the thumbtacks” (and proceed to remove them from his grasp) he screams and cries and wails as if the world has just ended. I think sometimes we are afraid adults will react the same way if we were to tell them, 1.“No, I can’t do that. The week is really busy and I need time to rest.” Or 2.“No, I can’t work an extra day this weekend Mr. Boss because the time I have with my family is important.” Or 3. “No, it’s not okay if you share my story with your friend.”

Here’s where my head goes in previously mentioned situations and why I think it will be a disaster to say “No”.

  1. You will be disappointed and think I don’t love you and cherish the time we spend together. I will miss out on an incredible story or adventure and be the odd-woman out. 2. I will be seen as not caring about my job, I won’t look as dedicated as someone who will work an extra day; I’ll be fired. 3. You will think I don’t trust you and our friendship will head for inevitable demise.

Tell me I’m not alone! Maybe those situations don’t feel familiar to everyone. But I’m pretty sure we can all relate to difficulty in saying no to a salesperson…

As an absolutely crazy make-up loving woman, I feel pressure to say yes every time I walk into an Ulta Beauty or Sephora. The salesladies see me coming from a mile away. “Don’t look at the eye shadow pallets… walk away. Slowly, walk away. TURN YOUR EYES!!! Just pick-up what you came in here for.” Fast forward thirty minutes later and I’m chatting it up with a sales woman with 6 different products in hand. I don’t need a $30 lipstick. I know the EXACT same color sells for $2.50 in a lesser-known brand. Why did I take it when she handed it to me? Why all the pressure to say “yes”? I think part of me is afraid I’ll hurt her feelings if I say no. I’m afraid I’ll look poor if I say no. I’m afraid I won’t be as beautiful as the women on the poster if I say no. I’m afraid she knows better than I do. So I say “yes” and reprimand myself the entire way home. I’ve been robbed of peace and $30. And I lost just a little part of my dignity when I didn’t stand up for myself and do what I knew was right for me.

stephen covey

Back to little Grayson who is terribly upset I have taken his thumbtacks. Here’s the thing: he always bounces back from my “no.” I hand him something new and his face lights up and pretty soon he’s taking my hand and running me in circles around the living room. Our friends will bounce back from our “no” too. They appreciate honesty and know that the time spent together will be meaningful and free of stress. We are respected for having our priorities straight. We can rest in the respect we have for ourselves.

I can say “no” when the girls at the tanning salon try to sell me the latest-and-greatest 50X bronzing tanning lotion that costs $125. Who really needs to be that tan anyway?!?

I can say no when the triple shot venti caramel macchiato is calling me three quarters into my 10 hour shift. I’ll be dragging at the gym, if I decide to go at all after the caffeine crash. Is the rest of the day going to be that difficult?!?

I can say “no” when I’m asked to reveal more than I’m ready to, or heck, even want to. I deserve dignity and protection. I need to feel safe. What am I really losing when I tell someone I am not going to expose myself?

Do you see that there is kindness in saying no to others and even to myself sometimes? Do you see the kindness, rest, and peace that come in acknowledging what we really need? There are many times in my life I let fear turn a “no” to a “yes.” And I was a mess and desperate for rest.

Kindness is key in saying “no.” When we allow ourselves kindness in honest answers, there is rest and kindness for the other person in the relationship too.

In my heart I know that there is only one “yes.” If I say yes to Jesus and let Him guide me through my day, rest, kindness, and grace for myself and others will be evident in the words I speak. Even if the word I’m saying is no.


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Anna Hull lives in San Antonio, TX. A graduate of Schreiner University with a B.A. in Religion & Political Science, Anna is passionate about finding Jesus in every day life. She enjoys unexpected adventure, making genuine connections with others, and finding beauty in chaos.
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