Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Problem With No

As I phoned my husband on my way home from work, it was obvious to his listening heart that something was bothering me.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I replied.

“Are you sure?” he inquired further.

“I guess I’m just upset at myself,” I finally admitted.

“Why? What did you do?”

“I agreed to help out with an event in the park this weekend.”

“And you don’t really want to do it, do you?”

“NO!” I answered.

“Honey, you are just going to have to learn to say no.”

“Oh, I can say no.” I shot back. “But for some odd reason, when I say it, it is always followed by the word problem. You know, as in, ‘Oh sure, no problem.’ ”

“Well, see,” he said triumphantly. “That’s your problem. You need to just leave it at no.”

We ended our conversation and I continued my drive home.

Oh, if only it were that easy. If only I could say no. Why is it that when someone asks me to do something, I always feel compelled to say yes?

The light at the upcoming intersection turned yellow and the traffic slowed to a stop.

It’s the guilt. That’s what it is. If I say no, I feel so guilty, not to mention selfish. I always end up feeling like I’m a horrible person.

The light now green, I shifted into gear and continued my commute.

Lord, you have called us to be servants. You want us to be your hands and your feet to a world in need. You want us to say yes, don’t you?

Once again, the traffic slowed. Orange construction barrels now herded us into a single lane. Slowly the parade of cars crept through the work zone.

Lord, I’m so torn inside. I want to help people. I really do. Yet, at the same time, I honestly don’t. Sometimes, I just want to do something for me. How selfish is that! I feel guilty if I say no, but then when I say yes, I feel resentful. No matter what I do, I never seem to win. Please Lord. I need your help. Show me the right way…your way.


Having no other option, I continued to follow the car ahead of me as we slowly meandered our way through this work in progress.

What’s that, Lord? What did you say? Yes, I remember. You told us to love our neighbor as we love our self. I’m trying to love my neighbor, Lord. That’s why I always say yes.

What, Lord? Myself? Do I love myself like I love my neighbor?

The lane I was driving on now became uneven, causing my car to tilt to the right. Driving at this new angle felt awkward and made me feel strangely uncomfortable.

What’s that, Lord? Hum…yes, I hate to admit it, but you’re right. When I say yes, I’m only giving lip service, and not truly loving from my heart. My mouth says “no problem”, but my heart doesn’t agree. But wait, Lord. What does this have to do with me loving myself?

Soon, the all too familiar pavement ended and we ventured forward over rough, dusty terrain. The previous pavement had been completely removed, allowing the workers to prepare this area for new improved lanes that would be wider and free of potholes.

Oh, I see Lord. It’s about finding a balance, isn’t it? You have commanded me to love my neighbor, but at the same time, you have also commanded me to love myself. You want my love to be true...both to others and myself.

Finally, we reached the end of the work zone. Once again, I found myself on smooth, even pavement and driving at ease. As I continued my commute, I realized the Lord had been lovingly guiding me through the confusion in my heart.

As I arrived home, my husband came out to greet me.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “Why the big smile on your face? Last time I talked to you, you were anything but happy.”

“Let’s just say I had a great commute home,” I answered.

“Didn’t you have to drive through that new construction zone? That section of the road is a mess!”

“Yep, but you know what? Surprisingly, it turned out to be "no problem", after all.”


2 comments:

  1. hahaha! I love it!! All of it! I have no problem with saying no. Especially after I found myself stressed out with all of the ministry obligations I had picked up - I was mad at God, and everyone else. Yikes.

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  2. This is very insightful. I love the "no problem" line. So true. And you are right...if I could only give myself the same lovin' that I give others. Maybe then I'd find the balance! Good stuff!

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