A simple word,
Two letters.
A determiner.
An exclamation.
An adverb.
The absence of something.

We start by saying “no” to the things that we don’t want, even if we don’t know what we do want.
“No peas,please.”
“No nap!”
“No. I want MOM.”

Soon, our no’s become expressions of our values,
The things we like, or don’t.
We use no’s to maintain our environment.
We use no’s to exercise our dominion to choose.
“No, that is probably not good for me.”
“No, I would rather not stay up that late.”
“No, I prefer not to swear.”

We exercise our no’s for our entire life.
No’s keep us safe.
No’s uphold boundaries and ethics.
No’s can be good, useful, for the purpose of shalom.
“No, I will not speed.”
“No, I will not throw my trash on the ground.”
“No, I will not act violently against this person because of the color of their skin.”

Our no’s help us navigate the world.
They empower us.
Until someone else decides our no’s are not worth anything.
Until someone decides that our no’s do not matter
Until someone decides to ignore our no’s and carry on with their own agenda.
Until someone uses their power to say no to our no.

No’s can diminish, disempower, hurt, abuse, take advantage of.
“No, you cannot lead.”
“No, you are not welcome here.”
“No, your body is not worth my respect.”

Sometimes our no’s are silenced.
And our voices become silenced.
“No, we don’t believe that actually happened to you.”
“No, your opinion isn’t valuable here.”
“No, you don’t know what you are talking about.”

Until they are taken from us.

I don’t know about you,
But I am saying NO.

I am saying no to the forces of evil that
Take advantage of,

By the power of the Holy Spirit,
Who is an advocate for the oppressed,
A voice for the voiceless
A champion of the disenfranchised.

Our God does not delight in wickedness.
Evil may not dwell with God.
It is with all of the authority on heaven and earth
That God declares, “No.”

No. That is not how you were meant to experience life
No. You deserve better. You deserve more.
No. You are made in the image of God.
No. Your body is a holy, dwelling place of God.
You are a holy, dwelling place for God.

A simple word,
Two letters.
A determiner.
An exclamation.
An adverb.
The absence of something.

A word to reclaim.

Haley is a native of South Dakota, who recently moved back “home” with her husband, Tyson, and sweet goldendoodle, Winifred, from Holland, Michigan. She is learning how to claim her roots as a biracial woman and celebrates every inter-racial marriage that she sees. She is passionate about growing through grief and loss, empowering young women, and living out the fullness and abundance of grace that we have been given. You can follow her writing here.