It is okay to say ‘no’ sometimes. In fact it is recommended I learn to do so.
If I were asked to paint a picture of my life, I have a feeling that sometimes I would paint a picture of a big, open room with nothing but the bare essentials; seats lined up where they should be, odds and ends neatly stacked in piles and other things here and there, all neatly arranged.
And there would still be lots of space for that random stranger who just wants hot chocolate and that occasional happy throng of friends sprawled on the floor.
But on other days – like right now – I would paint an attic.
I have never seen an attic but with what I read and watch in movies (and just looking at how stuffy the word looks sef), I have an idea of it. It brings to mind a room with nothing but endless clutter. A place where everything and everybody seems to be fighting for space. There would be the frequent sound of footsteps going in and out and leaving piled boxes in their wake. And then the occasional old guitar, valued trophy kept for future generations, or mouldy books dumped beneath or above the pile of mess – depending on their luck.
A room that never learned to say ’no’.
A room that said yes to every discarded clothing, every valuable piece tossed carelessly around, every nostalgic inhabitant wanting to sniff old books.
This is probably an exaggeration (probably?) but I have come to that point in my life where I realize, “my life really needs some serious de-cluttering.” Why? Because, I don’t want to be an attic.
I want space. Sure, I want many things in my life but I need structure.
We need structure. We need space. Our world is filled with so much clutter that clarity has never been more needed.
When we do not learn to say no, before long we accumulate so much that there is no more space for what matters. It is like when you’ve stuffed yourself so much with food that when dessert comes, you can’t even take a bite. Bummer!
Life will come at us with various requests and we must not keep nodding to everyone and everything we don’t have to. Not everyone who seeks our attention needs to get it. Not every relationship should be committed to. Not every opportunity must be grabbed like it’s the last piece of dodo. Not every link must be clicked even if it has a giant faced, angry red font screaming ‘Click Me’ (‘Information Overload’ is actually a thing and I will add; a condition). Not every dream must be chased. Not everything must be bought. Not every question and request must get a ‘yes’.
There are even some things that may look ‘godly’ and ‘justified’ but are really just baggage. That is what most of us fail to understand, life HAS demands, the world is like a siren song that must be countered with all our heart and eyes on Christ.
You are not a dumping ground for every idea, thought, request and dysfunctional opinion.
Your life must be de-cluttered to give S P A C E. This reminds me of a line in one of Audrey Assad’s songs I looove so much;
“Your love is wide open spaces where I can run.”
And this is the life He has to give us. A life that is steeped in the love of God. A love with space. A life with space. Space for only Him.
For us to have that life, we need to learn to say no:
- ‘No’ to every voice and relationship that makes us veer off the path of God’s purpose.
- ‘No’ to every ‘popular opinion’ and philosophy that clearly defy God’s Word. However ‘wise’.
- ‘No’ to every pleasure and maybe even ‘important work’ that would steal our time and relationship with Our Father.
- ‘No’ to every feeling, every emotion (however ‘justified’) that contradicts the life of God.
- ‘No’ to every desire or argument that attempts to exalt itself above the knowledge of Christ.
- ‘No’ to saying no to life.
- ‘No’ to lingering thoughts and imaginations that profit nothing.
- ‘No’ to a ‘safe’ life lived on the side-lines with our hands beneath our butts because we were too scared to say ‘no’ to fear.
- ‘No’ to every opportunity and dream that is out of God’s plan.
- ‘No’ to…………….and the list goes on.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” – Titus 2:11-13 (NIV)
So, here’s the thing; God’s grace teaches us to say ‘No’ because apparently we cannot pronounce a two-letter word by ourselves -___- . Just kidding (really though, it is true in some sense). He teaches us to recognize and reject everything that contradicts His will. He shows us how to live simplified, beautiful lives that are godly, waiting in eager expectation for our Lord.
If we let Him.
Alright, so, take a deep breath and repeat after me:
“I [insert your name], am not a human nodding machine.”
*Based on the What I have been learning series
I want to say a Happy , gracious birthday to my friend; Gbenga Onalaja. Praying that you have the very best of God. May your ink never run dry. You rock!
And to John Paul Usman (JayPee), whose birthday should have been today. Death is a loser. I remember you today mon ami.