Reason #7 Why I Can’t Say NO

Reason #7 Why I Can’t Say No:  I’ve been so abundantly blessed.

Seriously.  I’m so blessed it’s embarrassing.  Sometimes I feel horrible saying “no” to a request, especially when it’s a “good cause,” because I know I’m so fortunate and I feel bad not pitching in for someone else.  So I say “yes,” feeling guilty for having been blessed beyond what I deserve.

Here’s the problem with that:  it’s based on guilt!  UGH!  Guilt, guilt, guilt!  Seems like so much of my reasoning is based on those horrible feelings of guilt.  Clearly not the way a God of such grace intended for me to live.

But then something happened.

Last weekend I said “yes” to something I didn’t really have time for on paper, but still felt I should do.  Origins is providing a night of care each week to a friend of ours who is an incomplete quadripilegic due to an accident.  We do this so his wife can get one full night’s sleep a week.  I signed up to take a turn and last weekend was mine.  Each time I discussed what I was doing with someone in the group, they raised a suspicious eyebrow and said something like “Are you sure?” or “How will you handle that and take care of the kids?”

I put my family to bed and then made the trip across Lake Ponchartrain to help some acquaintances who, that night, became my friends.  Dwayne had to work early the next day, so Mackenzie, my oldest, pitched in on babysitting duty for an hour or so until I returned home the next morning.  (So really our whole family pitched in to make this happen)  Losing sleep wasn’t a problem since my little one still doesn’t sleep all night and my body is well-acquainted with getting up every few hours during the night.  I dozed in between my every-other-hour cell phone alarms, when I would get up and turn my friend from side to side to avoid bedsores, help with changing bedding, bathroom needs, whatever issues came up.  As I dozed on the couch and my cell would vibrate telling me it’s time to wake up and turn my friend, my eyes would open and invariably fall on a beautiful bronze sculpture by the door.  It’s an artist’s rendering of Lazarus, standing triumphantly, arm overhead as he unravels his grave clothes.  (See John chapter 11 for the whole story)  I thought of Jesus and the many things He did on behalf of others when He walked the Earth.  Nothing like one of Jesus’ most famous miracles right in my face all night to get my mind thinking about the things He did and my reasons for doing the things I do.

I thought, as I completed the very personal, potentially embarrassing tasks for my friend, of Jesus’ words in John 13:

 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

I had said “yes” to this act of servanthood, not out of guilt this time, but because it is clearly, truly, one of those things that I KNOW Jesus would do.  I love Him, and I want to be like Him, and performing an act of servanthood for another person that night, I knew I WAS being like Him.  THAT’s a whole lot better reason than just “I feel guilty having so much so I’ll agree to do something for someone else.”  Whadya know?  Maybe I got it right, for once?

I have to say, it feels great to have said “yes” to something for the RIGHT reason.  Why don’t I do that all the time?  Why even allow my feelings of guilt into the equation?  Why not simply ask God if this is what He would have me to do, and then proceed according to His instructions?  Doing something as an act of love for Christ and my fellow-man sure created a different feeling than doing something out of a bad feeling of guilt.

Lesson learned:  When I say “yes” for the right reason, it ADDS to my bond with Christ and my bond with those whom I serve.  When I say “yes” for the wrong reason, I notice that the activity normally yields little to no growth in my spiritual life or in my relationship with those receiving services from me.  This alone is reason enough to make SURE my yeses and no’s are based on healthy rationale.

Perhaps with this, Reason #7 Why I Can’t Say NO, and my last entry in the series, I’ve come across a formula or system for checking myself when I’m faced with an opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to a task, commitment, or request.  The activity should be something I can do out of love for God and others.  It should bring me closer to Him and to them.  This is a simple check but it applies in all situations, to all requests whether church, family, work, or socially related, and it rules out unhealthy reasonings such as guilt.  Interestingly, my answer about when to say no, came through a time I said “yes!”

Hope this series has helped someone out there.  It sure has made a difference for me.  So what next?

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