Oh No!

by Laura Harris

No. It’s one of the smallest words in the English language, yet one of the most powerful. It has negative connotations, from expressing dissent to denial. But the word can also be self-preserving and liberating.

In my 20’s and well into my 30’s, I had difficulty saying “no” for fear of disappointing my co-workers, family and friends. I would begrudgingly agree and then complain about the task at hand. As a result, I would often neglect my needs and responsibilities. As I’ve matured in age and spirituality, I’ve realized saying “no” is an acceptable and accountable response in certain situations.

Early in my calling, prior to baptism, I worked for an organization that hosted many weekend events. In attempting to be a good employee, I rationalized that I could attend these functions to show support without working. Inevitably, I would field work-related questions and run errands during these activities. After several months of breaking the Sabbath, I felt confident enough in my faith to tell my supervisor I would no longer attend Saturday events. He was very understanding and supportive of my religious beliefs.

In his 9/1/12 sermon, entitled “Your Servant,” Dave Harris states that serving others is commanded by God, but like all things, it needs to be tempered with balance. How can we take care of our neighbor if we are not taking care of ourselves? Henry Cloud, in his book “Boundaries,” discusses how many people take on extra responsibilities in order to avoid conflict. This “fearful niceness” results in burnout, resentment and a sense of being out of control.

When considering a request for help, I need to ask myself:

Is there a genuine need?
Would I or my family be adversely impacted?
Would I be compromising my relationship with God?
By saying no to one thing, I am actually saying yes to another.

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