No thanks. I don’t want to join your Body Pump Class. I appreciate you thinking of me though. I’m sure it’s great. You’re great. I’m just not interested. I’m cool with yoga only because, for the most part, people keep their eyes closed in a meditative state and aren’t judging me for my middle-aged-mom-of-two-lover-of-carbs body. However, if they ever dim the lights and ask everyone to close their eyes during Body Pump, just let me know, I’m in.
While I’m here, it’s also a no from me on the 5K you are doing on St Patrick’s Day. While I do agree that the green “Run-O-Luck” tee-shirt you got for signing up is cute, I’d rather celebrate the day with a green beer and not have it slosh around on my insides as I ran around downtown for no immediate reason.
I know that, in the past, I’ve always just done it. It was mostly because I liked you. However, I have a confession. Lots of my yeses were because I thought you may not like me back if I started saying “no” too often. Especially if I had said “no” without an excuse to back it up. I saved up my no for special occasions and used my no sparingly. That’s changing.
The first few times I said “no,” I was in a mood. I blamed the no on that. Then I tried it out on a safe person. One who I knew would give me some grace even if it made her mad. But it didn’t make her mad, she just said, “ok” and it was done. Mind blown. Every “no” became easier and easier until I stopped feeling a single twinge of guilt about it. In fact, saying “no” was liberating and stress lifting. Shocked the hell outta me. I wish the 30-something me and the 20-something me and certainly the high school me could have felt at ease saying it. My goodness, the heartache it would have saved.
I’ll admit, this wasn’t my idea. I learned this from watching a lady say “no” to her husband…in front of people…without excuse…without anything…just “no.” I was sitting in a living room with a small group of people from my church. We were doing a devotional together in her beautiful home. She was an excellent hostess. She had snacks prepared when we got there. She engaged in small talk around her kitchen counter. She participated in the group discussion about the book we were reading. When her husband, who was leading the group, asked her to close us in prayer she simply shook her head and said, “no.” I laughed, thinking it was a joke, but she wasn’t joking. She meant it, in front of all of us, No. Living in the south and being church broken (a term I use to describe how I was taught to properly act at church or in the company of church people), I had never witnessed this before. It was amazing. I sat across from her and observed her face as he asked someone else to pray. I kept watching her after we got up from our seats and began mingling and eating again. I watched her as she walked us to the door and waved bye. Not a single excuse or explanation came from her mouth. She didn’t appear distressed, bothered or ill. Clutch your pearls, she just plain didn’t want to pray. After this, it happened again, on another night. I don’t even remember the question, but I remember her answer: NO.
That’s what inspired me. That and being emotionally tired of always pleasing and being pleasant and smiling and saying “yes” while hoping one of the kids would throw up and give me a good reason out of whatever I’d just said “yes” to.
40 was a rough year for me for so many reasons, but one thing that came from it was my voice. The one that wasn’t speaking for herself because she was too busy making sure everyone liked her.
No has freed up so much time to do other things. Things I enjoy. Saying “no” doesn’t make me unkind or negative or defiant. It makes me honest. Saying “no” opens the margin for things I want to say “yes” to. It’s a beautiful thing. I’d recommend you give it a try. Maybe not wait until you’re 41 for maximum results.