Freedom to Say “No”

“Why won’t you help me!?” was the wail that erupted in response to my decision.

“I’m willing to help,” I said. “ but you want me to do the whole thing for you.”  

This particular individual had manipulated me into doing for her what she could and should do for herself. In church that day, God had urged me to change my “yes” to a “no” in regard to her request.  Among her excuses for not facing the task and just doing it were:

“I don’t have enough time.”

“I’m too scared.”

“You’re so much better at it than I am.”

Accusations flew at me after my firm “no.”

“But you said you’d do it. You can’t change your mind.”

“Sure I can, and I have,” I said.

“It’s obvious you don’t care about me.”

“It’s because I care about you that I need to stop letting you be so dependent on me,” I said.

“You can’t say ‘no’ about this.

“In healthy relationships people give one another the freedom to say ‘no.’ And to change their minds.”

This person fumed for an entire afternoon that I wouldn’t take back the responsibility I should never have embraced. Manipulation strategies were used one after another in an attempt to get me to change my mind. But I held my ground.  

When you determine to let go of false responsibility and boldly say “no,” anger will often be the outcome.  The longer you’ve been taking on false responsibility, the fiercer the anger tends to be.

Sometimes I haven’t said “no,” because I wanted to avoid anger or hurting someone’s feelings.  Yet it’s the refusal on my part to say “no” that has harmed my relationships. One way is that this pseudo serving of others builds up resentment in me and also wears me out emotionally and even physically. It also takes time and energy away from doing what God wants me to do.

Too often I say “yes,” as a way to “keep the peace.” But it’s a false peace on the outside. On the inside of me there’s turmoil and unrest. God has an answer for this unrest:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29 NIV

The relationship with my loved one has not ended since I said, “no,” this past Sunday. In fact, I believe it has deepened. This person knows she tends to be too dependent on others. And she has accepted that what she was asking (or rather demanding) I do was not my responsibility.

There have been times when I’ve given a firm “no” to a friend’s demands, and the relationship ended. That is a risk worth taking. If a so-called friend can’t accept a “no,” then there really was not a healthy friendship in the first place.  

I’m thankful God is ready and willing to give us wisdom in our relationships. What a joy it is to see how far He has brought me on this journey of letting go of false responsibility.  

Is there someone in your life that you need to say a firm “no” to? Pray God will give you courage to do it this week.

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About elainecreasman

I am a freelance writer and inspirational speaker. Since 1986 I have led the Suncoast Christian Writers Group.
This entry was posted in Spiritual Growth and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Freedom to Say “No”

  1. Selena says:

    I am always amazed at God’s timing. I was on the computer struggling with a way to say “no” to a family member when I decided to look at my Facebook. One of the first posts contained the link to this article. I’m a little overwhelmed right now at the relief I feel after reading your article. I was feeling selfish and guilty for not saying “yes”, but now I realize I’ve suffered for years with the inability to say “no” to certain people in my life for the very reasons you mentioned in the article. THANK YOU.

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