It’s OK to Just Say “No”

Matthew 5:33-37 – (Jesus said,) “And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

Gratitude Day 756

Do you know that “No” is a complete sentence?

Or are you like me and often forget this?

I have spent most of my life saying, “Yes” to most everything. I am the type of person who loves to think that she can pull most anything off. There’s this shadow part of my personality where I convince myself that being called in to help someone else means that I am needed. I trick myself into thinking that I have this herculean ability to juggle multiple things … somewhat well. No matter how little time or resources or what else is on my calendar, I am SURE that I can add one more thing.

I have tried to do this for years. Decades. Often, this attitude served me well. I have lost count of how many times I simply put my nose to the grindstone and gutted something out … because I convinced myself that I could.

Yes, there are important lessons here. We can do hard things, more often than what we think is possible. Being a pseudo-runner, I struggle with this over and over. Nearly every time I go for a longer run, I go through these mental gymnastics of whether or not I can run as far as I want to. Unless I mentally shut it down, there can be this constant batter between “Yes!” and “No” in my brain. Mostly, the “Yes” wins because I do not want to let myself or anyone else down.

Saying “Yes” is so important. This is how things get done, how lives are changed. The world needs folks who are not afraid to stretch themselves, try something new that will benefit others and expand our boxes, so we see life through new lenses. We can do so much good every time we say, “Yes.”

But saying “Yes” for the wrong reasons can also be hurtful. Every time we say “Yes,” we say “No” to something else. A “Yes” may mean less sleep, less time to focus on something else, time away from the people who mean the most to you. There are many times we should justify our saying “Yes.” The opportunity may not arise again or someone else is in desperate need or we can fill in the gaps.

It’s OK to say “No” when you are feeling overwhelmed.

It’s OK to say “No” when you are exhausted.

 It’s OK to say “No” when you have another commitment.

It’s OK to say “No” when you are emotionally drained.

It’s OK to say “No” when you are not completely committed.

It’s OK to say “No” when you feel you need to say “Yes” to yourself.

It’s OK to say “No” when you feel you need to say “Yes” to a loved one.

It’s OK to say “No” when it means dropping self-care.

It’s OK to say “No” when it does not fit into your wheelhouse of gifts and talents.

It’s OK to say “No” when something is not a definite “Yes.”

Equally important, especially for people like me who defer to “Yes” naturally, is to ponder if “Yes” the best answer. Sometimes, “No” is the better reply. Maybe we are already stretched too thin, overstressed or anxious or do not have the gifts and talents needed. If saying “Yes” will make life way to complicated, maybe “No” is the better answer.

A little insight? We can simply say, “No.” Nothing else. Remember … it IS a complete sentence.

Most often, those of us who struggle with saying “No,” feel we must justify our answer by saying why we cannot do something. It goes like this: “As much as I want to want to say yes, I just can’t right now because …..”

And we fill in the blank.

Maybe, just maybe, “No” is enough. It can stand alone. All by itself. It IS a complete sentence.

Rarely will anyone say “No” for us. It is up to us whether we choose to say “Yes” or “No.” It is always a choice, even when we do not think it is.

Are there some of us who should say “Yes” more often? Yep.

Are there some of us who should say, “No” more often? You bet.

When we make the decision, then stick with it. Too often, I find myself vacillating between whether I gave the right answer or not. This is where I, and possibly you, should follow Jesus’ guidance. Make your “Yes” a yes and your “No” a no. Stick with it. Be content with your decision. Move forward.

I have made poor decision in my life thousands and thousands of times. Often, because I said, “Yes” when I should have said “No.” Other times, it was the other way around. These days, I am trying to give myself permission to say “No” … and be content with my answer. I, no you, can say “Yes” to every opportunity that comes your way. It just is not possible. My best advice? Make a decision and stick with it. But also remember … “No” is a complete sentence.

For the ability to make choices by saying “Yes” and “No,” I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – Too often, I look for affirmation of myself in what others think and say about me. Yes, this does feel good. But may I turn to You more consistently for these affirmations in my life. Help me know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.” Guide me daily through this never-ending challenge. Amen.

Looking for more information about when to say “No?” Check out chapter 3 of “The Mary Experiment: When Doing and Being Collide” which can be purchased here:

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