Different perspectives and perceptions of how people see us.
Most of the time… well almost every second of the time it is not what God sees in us.
Have you considered the simple truth that God knows who you are and sees you for who you are?
Opinions of other people seem to have a greater value to us than the value of our own opinion. Both appear to have greater power and value over the way God sees us.
God has a greater intimate understanding of who we are. His view is eternal. He knows our thoughts, our hearts, our desires, motivations, and how we feel.
God’s knowledge of who we are needs to have a greater value and impact on our lives.
You can rise up from anything. You can completely re-create yourself. Nothing is permanent. You’re not stuck. You have choices. You can think new thoughts. You can learn something new. You can create new habits. God knows us… it’s up to you.
By setting pure intentions and living with purpose and meaning through Jesus Christ, other people’s opinion and understanding of who we are becomes unimportant.
We are not here to please others.
And, when it comes to our opinion of ourselves – we adopt the eternal perception of who we are through Christ Jesus.
Every way of a man is right in his own eye: but the Lord pondereth the heart ~Proverbs 21:2, KJV ~
When we set our perspective and see who we are through our Heavenly Father’s eyes – we appear to be true and authentic toward others.
A light to the lost.
A beacon of hope.
Strong in our faith and conviction. Redeemed and crowned with the glory of Christ’s image. Anointed to carry the message of the Gospel to all people.
God knows and sees who we are – it is up to us to acquaint ourselves with who we are in Christ Jesus.
But if you insist on a quick fix that will show immediate results, you’ll give up on this love business in a heartbeat.
This is why Jesus included what seems to be an incongruous lesson in his love curriculum. He says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
Love, real love, risks telling hard truths.
Risks using a sword.
Facing hard truths will set us all free.
But before truth sets us free, it’s going to make a mess. Jesus warns that even families will turn on one another.
Parents against children.
Children against parents.
Siblings against each other.
And yet, like it or not, love propels us at this very moment in our common life to tell hard truths.
Jesus warns us that love meets opposition and, in any individual’s lifetime, is more likely to take us along the way of the cross than to a glorious winner’s platform.
The opposite of love comes in many forms. Sometimes—and most newsworthy—that opposition takes the form of hatred and violence. What is more common, and harder to overcome, are indifference, timidity, ignorance, and self-centeredness.
The miracle of love is that it can make the beloved into one who loves. Being loved can make us lovers. Lovers in the sense that Jesus taught. Loving God with every portion of our being and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Loving like this is how you save your life. You save your life by losing it.
You give your life away—again and again—for the good of all. That’s what it means to take up your cross.
And still, even though love’s power is miraculous, it is not magic. It is not instantaneous.
Neither does it seem to make much of a dent on some people. That’s why Jesus told his followers to bring peace wherever you go. And if someone doesn’t want to receive that peace, shake the dust from your feet and move on.
Love is powerful.
I’m going to keep walking in the way of love because I believe that eventually…
You mix the ingredients perfectly. It is going to be delicious.
And then, at the last second, you throw in a bottle of vinegar. And in that one decision, the rest of that tasty goodness is undone.
All of your good instinct and effort is still there. It looks great on the outside. It looks like it will taste as good as it looks. but in the end, all anyone is going taste is vinegar.
And so it is with life.
You may be saying and doing all the right things. The ingredients are all there to make something beautiful. But one small instinct or choice could be working against the rest of your efforts in detrimental ways.
So, you work and work, try and try, hope, and do… but all you get back is vinegar.
Think about how this idea is at work in your career – your health – your marriage – friendships and most importantly… your spiritual walk.
If everything is there to make a beautiful cake, but it is just not coming together, there is a reason.
Something in the mix is working against you, and it may be beyond what is obvious.
Your life is too big.
You are too smart, and you are working too hard to let one bad ingredient spoil your whole cake.
Have you ever felt as though God has not done His part in your life? You have sought Him earnestly to break the chains in your life.
You have pleaded with Him to help you be a better person, maybe fix your marriage, make you a better parent, or prosper you in the workplace.
Yet despite all of your pleading, it seems as though God has not fulfilled His promises. He has let you down.
Yet could it be that it is you and not God that has dropped the ball?
Maybe you are the vinegar?
Maybe negativity has overwhelmed you? Maybe bitterness has rooted itself deep into your soul? Has anger, jealousy or lack of forgiveness taken hold in your heart? We all have different forms of “vinegar” in our lives.
Make no mistake, our walk with Christ is like that cake.
God has provided all the ingredients as well as instructions necessary for us to make a marvelous and delicious cake. All that He requires is that we bake the cake.
In essence, what I am saying is this; God has equipped each of us with the necessary ingredients to live successful lives.
However, He will not force us to be successful; He will only equip us for success. Therefore, our success is dependent upon us. Will we choose to exert the effort necessary to take the ingredients God has blessed us with and turn them into something wonderful?
Are you willing to get rid of the “vinegar” that is in your life to be what you were meant to be?
Unfortunately, too often the answer to that question is no. We sit back lazily refusing to work hard. Failing to utilize the ingredients God has provided for us to have successful relationships, break strongholds, excel in our careers, or develop a stronger relationship with Him.
I am not asking you to make your life look like mine. Trust me… my life was once filled with a whole lot of vinegar. I still have the bitter taste of vinegar in some areas of my life. The only way to rid those areas is to continue to fill them with the “good” ingredients that God has provided. I continue to repair those areas of my life that have vinegar in them.
Again… we are unique. Your spiritual walk should not look like mine. Not all cakes are made the same… nor do they taste the same. But make no mistake… it should be pleasant to God.
Part of your spiritual journey is shedding other people’s expectations about what your spiritual journey should look like. And shedding your own expectations too, by the way.
I am not you. You are not me. We started at different times and places. We will end at different times and places. Our journeys are just that… ours.
Make your own cake. Stay out of my kitchen and I will stay out of yours.
I trust the author and finisher to provide the ingredients to live the life God intends for each of us.
Seek… and you will find. Not because you are doing it right, but because God plans to be found… in ways and at times that are unique and specific to you.
No need to compare with your neighbor. There is no good in judging your neighbor either.
We are all in different places on our own unique path.
Our spiritual life is not supposed to look the same.
Check the ingredients that God has provided you and bake away.
It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.
Only light will work.
We do not need to be philosophers, or saints, or sages to own this truth.
And we do not need to walk on water, or hot coals, or even air.
We need only shift our awareness to see from a different perspective, which allows us to make sense and see the world as it really is.
Last night I watched the riots take place in Minneapolis, after the murder of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a police officer.
His death was senseless, evil, and wrong. There is no justification for it.
As the protests increased and the looting started, I started to think about the fact that I am a white male closing in on 60 and I grew up in a world that made life easier for me because I was a white male.
While I think that there are other ways to protest than to destroy the very neighborhood you grew up in. I see that these men and women grew up in a world that made life harder simply because they are black.
It is wrong.
On all levels.
So, I cannot even try to understand or relate to what it was and is for a person of color to sojourn life in this world.
However, riots do not fix things.
Historically, when you look back at the riots of the 1960s in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago, it has only made life harder for those neighborhoods to recover.
It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.
The fact is, long after these riots have eased, pain and suffering will go on if we do nothing.
Wishing it to change… changes nothing.
Right or wrong, suffering is ingrained in our historical DNA. It is part of the universe we live in.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In all the years of human existence has not changed the fact that we will abuse the planet, watch our parents get old, and see the world divide itself with hatred, prejudice, and racial divide.
Disasters of all kinds will strike and, at one time or another, our bodies will fail.
The Polio crisis became the Spanish Influenza, which became the AIDS epidemic, which turned into Covid-19, which will one day turn into something else.
Let me be clear, this is far from a fatalistic view of the world.
There are no white flags here.
No escape hatches or dodging earthly responsibilities.
There is only optimism for us all to move the planet to a better place.
This is a rallying cry to laugh often, love deeper, care more, and do all we can to seek joy.
Yes, the world can be a serious and dark place. But, as any poet will tell you, it is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness. Only light will work.
And we are that light. You. Me. All of us.
And should we choose, the world (with all its joy, sorrow, and racial prejudice) can become a teaching space that will help us all find deeper truth and awareness on our journey to become mindful, awake, and alive.
It is in this place where our lives will never be the same.
We need to change our perspective and see the world as it should be—without thought of race, gender, religion, age, or political ideologies, or the job we hold, or the amount of money we make, or in any way that aims to divide us.
Hopefully, from this viewpoint, we will embrace our struggles as a path to higher awareness, so that our suffering can become a compass which allows us to look inward, and step into a world far more profound than the one we’re living in.
And I would add, the light is what makes the world a kinder and more hopeful place to live.
And all it takes is for all of us to change our perspective.
It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.
Vigilantes shot Ahmaud Arbery to death. He was a 25-year-old unarmed black man jogging through their neighborhood. Viewing Arbery through the lens of their own prejudice, they presumed that a running black man must be a criminal.
My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.
The impact from the COVID-19 virus continues.
Millions have lost their jobs. Businesses have shuttered. Families face shortages of life’s essentials. Those with the fewest resources at the beginning of the pandemic have been the hardest hit.
We are all feeling the strain, especially since none of us can see clearly when this will end and what the new normal will be like. And yet some refuse to take even simple measures to protect their vulnerable neighbors from infection.
My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.
I am currently unemployed. After almost 25 years at a company I loved, the business was sold, the plant closed, and I was left without a job. In this time of pandemic, it is next to impossible to find a job that is remotely close to what I had all those years.
I still continue to look.
My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.
My sister-in-law, Lynn is in the middle of her second round of ovarian cancer.
Another friend was diagnosed with brain cancer last week.
I have no words to describe my feelings other than cancer sucks. I hate it.
My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.
When I dwell on the state of things, I am sad and outraged, anxious, and appalled.
In other words, my heart is troubled.
Some of you might be tempted to share with me an especially Jesus-y sounding bit of advice.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
So, let me just be straight up here.
If you’re telling me—if Jesus were telling me—that having faith means that the world won’t break my heart, give me a migraine, and sometimes send me running for the airsickness bag, then I’ll never be faithful.
Now… I don’t mean that life on this planet is only a crushing of your soul.
My spirit soars at the everyday heroism of doctors, nurses, assisted-living workers, and the many other true essential workers that fill in the gap that I cannot do.
I find peace when I write articles for this blog.
Having my kids hangout, laugh and have fun together makes me happy.
Listening to my daughter Cassidy sing brings me comfort.
Working in my garage on a work-working project brings me satisfaction.
Breakfast for dinner is unusually fun for me.
I find peace and comfort in the naive goofiness of my grandsons.
Sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights leave me breathless.
Hanging with my wife eases my soul.
I could go on and on…
And yet, greed, selfishness, violence, prejudice, oppression, poverty, unemployment, and cancer stir something deep within me.
These ways of being—and the carnage they leave in their wake—can not stand.
We must resist them. And we must persevere in our pursuit of a world in which every human being is treated with the dignity they deserve as the beloved children of God. A world where no one is expendable. No one is replaceable.
In other words, we cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged.
As it turns out, that’s what Jesus was telling his friends on the night before he died.
He wanted to make sure His recipients knew that whether they were younger or older, parents or children, men or women, all could be encouraged in the truth that God was at work among them; He was near and knowable as their Father.
Here’s my rather loose and very amplified translation of the passage I mentioned above:
Don’t give up. Hang in there. Keep loving like I’ve been teaching you. Things will get messy, and loving will leave a mark. But I’m in this with you. Sometimes it won’t seem like we’re getting anywhere, but trust me, love wins. (John 14:1)
In other words, Jesus acknowledges that walking the way of love is difficult.
We may grow weary and feel disheartened.
But we do not walk alone. Jesus walks with us. Or more accurately, He dwells within us as both guide and source of strength.
Without intending to do so, most of us have discovered over the past weeks that much of our former lives ran on automatic pilot.
Routines like the workday and the school week, grocery shopping, and hitting the gym structured our days (ok… not the gym so much for me), populated our to-do lists, and focused our attention.
The what, when and where of life had a default setting.
We could function fine, well mostly fine, without reflecting on it.
In other words, things were normal.
We didn’t have to start each day strategizing how to secure toilet paper, keep the kids from melting down by noon, and stop ourselves from eating all the snack food in a single sitting.
Alone. In the closet. So, nobody catches us.
Since the coronavirus crashed onto our shores, we have lost normal.
We have lost most of the simple, habitual patterns of life.
Now we have to plan… strategizing and organizing everything.
Every. Stinking. Day.
I have heard it over and over: “I’m ready for things to get back to normal.”
I have said it too.
I miss the routine. I miss my grandkids. I miss jumping in the car and run errands without feeling like it is a dangerous mission to Mars.
I continue to stay at home as much as possible for the sake of my neighbors. I commend you for doing the same.
But if we have learned anything from the pandemic’s disruption of daily life, it’s that we have cruised through much of our lives without really thinking about it.
Sometimes normal stands in the way of a new way of living. A way that is truer to who we really are.
Don’t get me wrong. It is human to mourn the loss of normal. There is much to be grateful for in the lives that we inhabited before COVID-19 swept across the globe.
And yet, while the old normal is suspended, we have the opportunity to discern what about that old normal is not worth going back to.
Actually… we who follow Christ have a holy invitation to let that go.
Followers of Jesus are resurrection people. We’ve staked our lives on the promise that, as Paul puts it, those who are in Christ are a New Creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) And to be a new creation means that we not only accept but look for a new normal.
Jesus does more than repair what is broken, merely putting things back the way they used to be. The resurrection brings a New Heaven and a New Earth. The former things pass away. The old normal passes away. And God brings into being a New Normal in Christ.
Okay, I’ll admit it. The New Heaven and the New Earth are a long way off.
Infinitely and eternally far off.
But the pattern of dying and rising that draws us ever closer to it happens every day in ways both small and great.
Each individual life consists of habits. Habits of thinking, feeling, and acting.
It’s our normal.
And some of that normal—even good and beloved parts of it—must be left behind to allow something more to emerge.
An old self must die so that a truer, more loving self can emerge.
Our communities have social, cultural, economic, and political patterns. Justice and peace are the ideals of community life. And the patterns we have established provide that for some of us.
To achieve the justice and peace we all desire, an old normal must give way to a new normal. As we tell our own history, the American Revolution sought to precisely do that. To displace tyranny with the ideal of freedom and equality for all.
The Apostle Thomas understood that Jesus was talking about a New Normal.
In comparison to his friends, he was quick to see that the new normal would emerge from the grave of the old normal. That to be a person of the resurrection meant that he would have to let go of the comforts of the old normal. (John 20:1-31)
What Thomas saw in Jesus’ hands and feet were not disfiguring scars. Instead, he saw that Jesus’ wounds had been transformed into breath-taking icons of divine love.
The agony that Jesus endured had not been left in the past. Jesus himself had been transformed.
Transformed into a truer Jesus. The Jesus that Peter, James, and John had once glimpsed on the Mount of the Transfiguration.
In other words, Thomas wanted reassurance from Jesus himself before he let go of the old normal. Reassurance that letting go is the way to the new normal.
I would like to say that I accepted the fact that he was gone with reverence and understanding – but I can’t. His death came as a crushing blow to me. It was sudden and I was up in Michigan when I should have been at his side.
Only a few days before he was holding my first-born son in his hands… now my son would be cheated from knowing the man that made me proud of who I was.
Nathan is now 33 and understandably has no recollection of his great grandfather.
And yet I recognize my grandfather in Nathan.
Facial recognition usually plays an important role in our day-to-day ability to identify other people. Apps now mimic our neurological abilities, making it possible for your mobile phone or your tablet to unlock itself for you when it registers that it’s really you.
So, you may assume that Nathan resembles my grandfather.
But Nathan shares no facial features with his great grandfather. Those who know my son often say that he favors his father. Me.
Nevertheless, Nathan regularly brings my grandfather to mind for me.
For instance, Nathan’s quirky sense of humor, his childlike affection for babies, his unwavering kindness, and the cheerful grit that he shows brings my grandfather to life right before my eyes.
I hear echoes of my grandfather’s spirit in the way that Nathan carries himself in this world.
I do not see my grandfather’s face, but I recognize him.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, your face is, well, just your face. You may be male or female. Old or young. You may trace your heritage to Asia or Africa or Europe. But if you genuinely want to follow Jesus, you hope that other people can feel the echo of his spirit in how you carry yourself in this world.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus put it this way: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
When we love, Jesus is making himself known through us.
To follow Jesus does involve seeking to make Jesus known to others by how we navigate this planet. But Jesus is also showing us that He dwells in those we register as strangers. Jesus urges his disciples to seek Him in the stranger. Every stranger. Even the unlikely and off-putting ones.
Let’s be honest. Seeing Christ in the stranger—especially in the hard-to-love stranger—can be a challenge. It can be easy to judge someone or to write them off.
But Jesus urges us to do this instead: Look for a familiar face. His face. Especially in the most unlikely people.
As I see my grandfather in Nathan, my prayer is that I see Jesus in others as well.
But more importantly, may others see and recognize Jesus in me.
I’ve written many times about my travels when I was a student at Liberty University. I traveled all over America and to South America and all through the country of Brazil. I traveled to Africa and the country of South Africa.
As I listened to church this week, I had a memory of something that had happened years ago. It flooded my mind with such clarity and vividness that it took me by surprise. It was if I was right back there and nothing had happened in the 35 plus years since then.
The memory was of a church service I was in while traveling with the ministry team when I was a student at Liberty. We would come to a church and teach and sing about our responsibility to reach the world for Christ. Now for sure, I had been in hundreds of these same type of services. Why this specific one stood out and was flooding my memory all these years later was a surprise.
We had a church service somewhere in North Carolina. I don’t remember the town, but what stands out about this service at this church was I was having problems with the sound system. I was the sound man for the group. I had everything set up correctly the night before and tested it but for some reason, I was hearing a local radio station through the speakers. I was doing everything I could think to do, but I couldn’t stop it from happening.
Our team leader was Dr. Larry Haag, he was teaching at Liberty after coming back from the mission field in Brazil and he would travel with the team each weekend.
I was so frustrated because the sound was not working properly. Dr. Haag was not shaken by such things. He smiled and finally stood up and said, “We are going to do it old school today. I have done more than my fair share of preaching without a microphone.”
I kept trying to fix the problem until Dr. Haag looked at me and said, “David, it’s all good. Nothing is going stop the message getting out today, so relax and take the morning off and listen to what God has laid on my heart.”
I smiled and sat down at the soundboard and listened. What happened next is something that has impacted me since that day.
Dr. Haag said the following, “I‘ve always done a small thing when I go to a new place. It’s simple really, but it’s a way for me to remember what I’m here for and who I am.”
“In my mind or if possible, I draw a small circle in the dirt.”
Then I pray. “Lord, begin a revival in this place and begin in this circle.” Then I step into the circle and pray, “And Lord, begin with me.”
“This simple exercise does two important things for me. It reminds me that my presence anywhere is a chance for God to work in that place. And, it’s also a reminder that any place I am I will touch other lives. How I interact with them can draw them to the Lord, to his love, or turn them away. I pray that my little exercise will allow God to work in that place and in me.”
“So, let me invite you to do my little exercise. Draw a circle in the dirt and then step in it.”
“You are in this place, in this time, encountering people for eternal purposes… never forget that. If a simple reminder like this helps you I invite you to join me as I draw circles in the dirt.”
Dr. Haag’s words were simple… yet so profound.
Sometimes it is the simple lessons that have the biggest impact. I almost missed the message by being distracted by a sound system that didn’t work properly.
That Sunday was one of the few services where I got up from my seat at the soundboard and made my way down front to the alter. I had to make a few things right.
Sometimes you get so busy doing “God’s work” that you forget that it begins with you being in the right place.
When I think back to a message that I heard in 1983, I think of the message and illustration that has stuck with me all these years. When I think about it, I remember some messages that I heard way back in Sunday School than the ones I have heard as an adult.
Dr. Haag passed away a few years ago and he is in heaven. I never really told him about the impact he had on my life before he passed. But this I do know… God welcomed Dr. Haag into heaven with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
May my life forever be influenced by Dr. Haag and his wonderful message… “I draw a small circle in the dirt. and I say, Lord, begin a revival in this place and begin in this circle. I then step into the circle and pray, “And Lord, begin with me.”
May it forever be true in your life as it is in mine.
I was thinking the other day about this growing old thing.
One day, you are just a kid and the next day you, well, aren’t.
I remember high school graduation like it was yesterday, but no, it was 41 years ago.
A mere blip on the cycle of life.
Those days were a lot of fun, but they also contained a lot of angst. We wanted a lot of stuff that we were too young to have. We wanted to put school in the rear-view mirror and overlook the prospects of having to get a job.
We wanted to have our own money, our own place, and make our own rules. We wanted the good life and we wanted it right now.
Well, if there is anything to be said about getting old, I guess it is that I have all that now. I married my high school sweetheart. And, just for good measure, I don’t have acne either.
What I do have, however, is an increasing resistance by my body to respond to certain commands like ‘stand up’ or ‘run’ (like that’s going to happen). I guess you could call that getting old.
I prefer to think of it as outliving my warranty.
There is no such thing as OEM parts for a body. They are all produced by aftermarket manufacturers, so we start to turn into an entity consisting of spare parts.
Time was, if I dropped something, I would simply pick it up. Today, I find myself contemplating whether I really need it anymore.
In my youth, if I fell down, people would just laugh. Today if I fall down, they gasp… except for my grandsons… they seem to enjoy when grandpa falls down.
All a matter of perspective, I guess.
I’m happy to say that my mind seems to run pretty well. Oh, I do forget things, and find a lot of my conversations contain the phrases ‘did I tell you this before’ or ‘now what was I going to say’?
But that’s OK because my wife will reply ‘Huh, what did you say’?
In retrospect, I’ve got to say I’m kind of enjoying this aging thing. I think senility will be a rather smooth transition for me. I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling cranky, people are not surprised. If I ask for the senior discount, I don’t get challenged.
Since I suffer from cellulitis and peripheral neuropathy, I have a handicapped sticker in my car. Have you ever watched someone park in a handicapped space and, when they get out of the car you check them out for external signs of infirmity?
Well, I’ve noticed when I get out of my car, people just nod.
I’m trying. I’m not there yet. I still say yes to almost everything.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I am not ready to become a curmudgeon.
As I have said before, I am not the guy that yells at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn. I don’t ever want to be that “guy.”
However, seconds after I say yes to certain things I regret saying yes. It’s not that I don’t want to help people or assist when and where I can. It is more of a mindset in my head. I have never been able to really say no to things. My mind screams no and my lips say yes.
Don’t misinterpret what I am saying or meaning… I will always do for my family and what I feel is necessary. I will say yes to almost anything for my family.
In addition, I am learning that with over 40 years working I have said yes to just about everything at the places I was employed. If it wasn’t illegal or immoral I would do anything I ever was asked. I now see that the hours that I stayed late without pay and all of the “stuff” I did still finds me unemployed at 58. I lost my job due to a corporate buyout and I have worked the last year closing down the business I sweat blood for. At no fault of my own… saying yes to everything related to my job still lead to my unemployment.
Sometimes I feel like a target, meaning people learn who will say yes and who will say no to things. When you deal with these people and you finally say no… all hell breaks loose. Some people who I finally had to say no to a few things have completely cut me out of their life and they went on to take advantage of others. I am no worse for them doing that.
I’m slowly learning that one of the most liberating parts of getting older is learning how beautiful and empowering it is to say no. The keyword there is learning… because I have to change my mindset to convince my lips to say no.
I haven’t said it much, or at least I don’t think I have.
I think we could use a little more “no” in the world.
And, of course, I understand how much we all love the word “yes” and the kind-hearted people who use it. It’s such a generous word—the ultimate people-pleaser.
In fact, let’s call “yes” the hero of the dictionary—a positive affirmation for what is possible.
To say yes is to join in, take charge, and find a way to make something happen. To say yes is to move mountains, find cures, and solve problems. Yes, pushes the boundaries and takes us to places we never thought we’d go.
You want a beautiful next chapter of life? Say yes, every chance you get. Yes, to a better job, yes to more health, improved relationships, and new adventures. Yes, to joy, challenge, laughter, peace, compassion, happiness, and love.
Saying yes can rock your world. And I’m all for it.
However, like all good paradoxes, yes can also destroy us or turn us into puppets and clones.
Yes, can make us do things we don’t want to do or more importantly it can make us do things we shouldn’t do.
Yes, may be the language of the hero, but no is the language of the walk-to-your-own-beat, live your own truth warrior.
If yes is Superman, no is Batman.
Batman is a bit darker, but still, a superhero and arguably the second most powerful word in our vocabulary is no.
I have always considered myself more of a Batman as opposed to Superman… lol.
Yes, my friends, it’s time to shake our heads and wag our fingers. It’s time to border up the windows, lock the doors, and learn how to say no.
If it makes it easier to swallow, think about it as saying say yes to no.
Learning to say no can lead to and finding a beautiful yes.
Your life will never be the same.
Something to Ponder:
A good no shouldn’t be defiant, unyielding, absolute, or without motivation. That’s not the knee-jerk liberation we seek. A good no should be quiet and confident, a peaceful mantra for living your authentic truth.
Challenging Ways to Practice Saying No
Here are a few suggestions for putting a few more life-affirming no’s into your life. I am sure that you can add a few of your own…
Say no to putting yourself last. You can’t give away what you don’t have, whether that’s energy, love, humor, or joy. Take care of yourself first, and the world will be better off.
Say no to too much overtime, unreasonable deadlines, and impossible workloads that leave no time for joy and a deeper search for meaning. Schedule your life so that your work serves your inner and outer worlds. Make the same time and commitment for your inner journey that you do for your career or your family.
Say no to excessive television, electronics, news, politics, gossip, food, drink, or anything that brings you imbalance, fatigue, and illness, no matter how harmless, pleasurable, or intoxicating it may be.
And while you’re at it, say no to people who try to make you feel guilty for not doing more.
Say no to friends who infringe on your space, covet your time, suck your energy, and give nothing in return (you know who they are). Aim for creativity and compassion as you firmly put this into practice.
Say no to work you don’t want to do, places you don’t want to live, and situations that no longer serve your needs.
Say no to blindly adopting the attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets of those around you. Discover new ones that challenge and inspire you to live and create differently.
Say no to always being the knight in shining armor. While it’s great to be there for others, don’t get trapped into thinking it always has to be you who is the shoulder to cry on, throw the surprise party, or house-sit the neighbor’s pet. This can be hard, especially when it comes to family and friends, but if your no comes neutrally and from the place of your truth, it’s the right word. If someone resents you for it, then the favor wasn’t asked with a spirit of gratitude, which validates that it wasn’t in harmony for you to say yes in the first place.
The beauty of no is that it asks us what to leave out. “No,” asks us to recognize what doesn’t work, and in doing so, to discover what does.
When you think about it… no is yes in disguise—a small shake of the head that becomes the line we draw in the sand—a choice and a statement of what we believe and how we want to live.
Yes or no should not define you… this should:
The truth is that life isn’t about which side you’re on, which candidate you support, which views you hold on an issue but life is about how you treat one another.
Are you kind? Do you see others as more important than yourself? Do you yield at the light? Maybe open the door for an elderly person? Say thank you? Do you tip well? Do you help those who are struggling? Encourage those who are down? Life is not a competition to see who wins. If any of us lose we all lose.
My favorite verse is hidden at the end of 1 Corinthians. It’s verse 16:14- “Do everything in love.”
That’s it. Four words.
And they sum up a life lived well.
Don’t live in fear, live boldly, love well and see those around you.
If they don’t finish well then neither do you.
Saying No… just may be our secret weapon for a better life for you and those around you.