They Do Exist.

I Learned To Say No In 2011

Editor’s Note:Today’s post is by Julia, and you can follow her on Twitter at @juliac24. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us girls grew up like this. Countless women trying to find approval and salvation in our “trying harder”. If you struggle to say ‘no’ and to care for yourself – we REALLY recommend “Boundaries” by Cloud & Townsend. It is Biblical, professional, and will change your life. – Lauren

In 2011, I learned to say a bad word.

The word that no good Christian girl ever says. A word that people who are really good Christians don’t use.

I always thought that if I said this terrible word, I’d be the bad person.

I grew up as the good little church girl, sat in the front pew every Sunday while I listened to my dad preach. I got baptized when I was eight, and from then on, I did whatever needed to be done. I knew all the answers in Sunday School, I sang in church, played piano in church, and as I got older, became a leader for kids ministry and youth ministry too. I was the counsellor in residence for all of my friends (and even some not-so-much-friends) – when somebody needed help, they came to me.

Fast forward to 2011, and I’m in my second year at a Christian university. Residence Advisor. Worship Leader. And again, Counsellor in Residence. This time, it was my job. Part of my RA requirement. To help people.

So it piled up. Schoolwork. Meetings. Chapel services to lead and plan. Girls to mentor. Dorm events to plan. All-rez extravaganzas to help with. You name it, I’m supposed to be doing it. Here’s what I learned.

Going going going? Leads to slowly dying dying dying. There’s no time for you, no time to refresh, no time for God. Lots of time for ministry, but no time for the One that I’m supposed to be ministering for.

“God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose” – but they would not listen. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there – so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.” Isaiah 28

So, I learned to say the bad word. I learned to say ‘no’.

I learned to set boundaries, and stick to them. Instead of spending all my time with the girls on my floor, I started spending time with the One that deserves most of my time – Jesus. And what did I learn?

That saying ‘no’ is not a sin.
That people are not the most important thing, God is.
That ministry is not always what I’m called to do.

That sometimes I’m called just to sit back and bask in the presence of a Father who loves me and who refreshes me, even when people are pounding down my door.

God doesn’t call me, you, or anyone to always say ‘yes’. Yes, we are called to love. Yes, we are called to work. And yes, we are called to minister. But not to please a boss, a friend, a parent, a boyfriend, a spouse. To please the One who made us, the One who has given us that calling.

Paul writes in Galatians that “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a follower of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

Not being able to say ‘no’ usually comes from a fear of people. Fear that we won’t be liked. Fear that people will be angry. That they won’t understand. That they won’t appreciate us enough. That we’ll lose a bit of that “oh she’s so nice and wonderful” reputation.

So what?

We are not alive to please people, we are alive to please God. And His desire is not for us to burn out, to be tired, to be exhausted. His desire is for us to be filled, to be poured into, to experience His presence, so that we can share that with others.

So try it. Say ‘no’. The first time it will be hard, but oh-so-satisfying. Don’t learn it the hard way – when you have so much on your plate that you just collapse. The more you say it, the easier it becomes.

That’s what I’ve learned in 2011.

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10 Responses

  1. Cassidy

    Would you say the same thing about someone who rides the bus and feels awkward if she isn't starting a conversation with the person sitting with her, yet sometimes feels tired and wishes to just be quiet, though she feels as though she missed an opportunity if she does take a break?

    And yes, the she is me, I just liked the way she sounded in that question :)

    December 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  2. phoebelau

    Julia, thank you for taking the time to write this! I learned a very similar lesson this year and it's so encouraging to know that I was not the only one.

    December 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm

  3. It took me so long to learn this. It wasn't until this very year that I started to really understand it. I grew up as this same little girl.
    I read Boundaries this summer at the beach. Amazing! Read it!

    December 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm

  4. mandahlenheart

    Amen Sister!

    I learned this the hard way too. I overloaded myself until I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I thought I could do it. That I would be super woman

    I took 19 credit hours, Lead worships at a college group mondays, served at another college group wednesdays, worship practice thursdays, plus an internship and never saying no to anything. I realized I couldn't do it all. I was just going to church, but not growing in church.

    Thank you for sharing again. I love hearing stories from women that you can relate too.

    God bless,

    December 8, 2011 at 11:28 pm

  5. I definitely needed this!!! Thank you so much! It's so hard to say no to certain people, but you are totally right when you said, "we are not alive to please people, we are alive to please God." That's the truth!!! God bless you! :)

    December 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

  6. "That we’ll lose a bit of that “oh she’s so nice and wonderful” reputation.

    So what?

    We are not alive to please people, we are alive to please God"

    Thank you for this!

    December 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm

  7. Najwa

    I know exactly how you feel. This year I learned to say no to people, and to myself. Saying no to myself in the way of dying to oneself, and learning to live for God, and following HIS plan, no matter what I may think of myself. The part where you wrote dying, dying, dying; yeah I'm starting to live, live, live the eternal life HE has planned. I'm scared, but hey HE'll never leave us or forsake us. He's got our backs, we just need to say YES to HIM.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm

  8. Vanessa

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I want to make it a goal for the new year that I learned to use the word ‘no’.

    Reading your post was a much needed encouragement :)

    December 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

  9. charitysplace

    Fantastic article.

    March 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

  10. It really does feel difficult to say no. but it is always good to say no at times. I mean, we people do not have the guts to say no to our best friends, even if it is something that you should not do. I am happy for you that you have that courage now.

    May 29, 2015 at 5:04 am

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