A “No” uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a “Yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
I think it is fair to say that many people do not care for conflict. As a matter of fact, if we were honest with ourselves, most of us would probably say we work hard to “keep the peace” at home, work, church, etc. There’s nothing wrong with working hard to get along with one another, either. The Bible commends such efforts.
At the same time, there are times in our lives when it is necessary for us to say, “No”–even when we might be the only ones saying it. The challenge, however, is not really saying “No;” I believe the challenge lies in both why and how we say “No.” Does our “no” come from a deep moral or ethical conviction, or does it come from another place; say, for example, our resistance to looking at issues from very different perspectives, or otherwise being nudged from our comfort zones?
How we say our “no” is important, too. Do our “no’s” say to others, “I’m right; you’re wrong; so it is either my way, or I’m taking my toys and going home;” or do they say, “I strongly disagree with you; I’m not even sure I can ever agree with you; I am, however, willing to listen to and dialogue with you.” “No”–while always having the potential of changing our relationships with others–does not always have to mean the end of those relationships. It is possible for us to say “no” to one another passionately, yet respectfully.
Who knows? By uttering our “no’s” from a place of passion and respect, we might even be able to solve more problems than we ever will by avoiding these tough discussions altogether.
Of course, we’ll never know until we try, will we?
Grace and Peace,
Holy Covenant MCC, Brookfield, IL
People often say with pride, “I’m not interested in politics.” They might as well say, “I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.”
— Martha Gellhorn, writer/journalist (1908-1998)
Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
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