My pastor from a church that I used to attend, text me in the middle of the week, asking me to come to the upcoming Sunday service. He assured me I would like the message.
I now belong to a Catholic parish but I still visit Pentecostal churches here and there. I am not going to go into details about one church or the other, but there are major polarizing opinions about Pentecostal and Catholic churches. I discovered that what matters is “love”. God’s love. I will forever be grateful for the Pentecostal approach to prayer and how they teach the bible in a simple practical way.
In any event, the moment I received the text I felt pressured to say yes. I am very happy and content in my Catholic church. I look forward to going to it. I find the sermons vibrant, short and sweet, and I love the Chorus, the music, and the reminder of my childhood church next to my grandmother’s house.
However, once my older pastor sent me that text I felt almost obligated to say yes. My excuse to myself (the one that was telling me, I don’t want to go) was that perhaps it is a sign from God. Maybe He wanted to tell me something. If God wants to tell us something He can do it anywhere anytime.
I couldn’t come to terms that I am not interested in going to a different church. I am content where I am. When I do want to go somewhere else, I feel a nudge, something pushing me to visit an older pastor or even a different church. It usually comes from within or maybe it comes as an affirmation in a form of an invitation. I can look at my life and recognize how many times I have a hard time saying no, or worse, have a hard time expressing what I want or feel fearing what people may say.
In light of my debate about what church to go to, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my 13 year-old daughter just this past week. I was making a comment about someone that I like very much but who has a hard time saying no, and I told my daughter “if he just learns to say no more often, he will be OK”. My daughter looked at me and humbly confessed that she also has a hard time saying no.
“Mom, I even say yes when I know it is inconvenient to me”. I asked her, what did she mean? She said I always say yes when teachers or kids in school ask me to help, do a project that I know I wish I didn’t do or even give a hair tie when I know it is my only one left in my bag for my own emergency. She further elaborate saying that the few times she does manage to say no, she walks away so guilty that she comes back and says yes she will do it.
If that wasn’t omen enough to write a blog about it, in the same week in a completely different incident my 15 year-old son managed to speak on the same subject, unaware that I was wondering about it. He mentioned that he injured his calf during track and his coach decided to look at it and do a few exercises to make him feel better. He went further to say that he hates when people try to make him feel better because if my leg still hurts after he tries a few things, I feel incapable of saying the truth that it didn’t help.
As a mom, I tried to gently tell my teenagers how important it is to master the skill of saying NO. I will read my own advice over and over and try to apply it myself.
I did go to visit my older pastor church and didn’t stick to my guts. Why?
-I didn’t want to disappoint my older pastor, I didn’t want to disappoint him or take the chance of been dislike it.
– I was afraid perhaps there was something I would miss by saying no. He suggested I would like it. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love either. Mostly because I wasn’t following my heart.
– I often doubt my own decisions. I often doubt my own internal compass that tells me which way to go
I think we would all agree that the underlying motive of not being able to say NO is our insecurities and desire to be loved and approved by others. We put others before our own desires and needs. The second most common reason is fear. Fear of missing something, fear they may get angry at us, fear of confrontation, and fear of fear itself.
What can I do to change? Just like going to the gym doesn’t translate into magically getting great muscles, the ability of saying NO doesn’t happen overnight, but by one NO at the time. It does take discipline, determination and practice to get into good shape. It does take discipline to listen to our hearts and despite all fears do the right thing anyway.
I recognize that when I am acting out of fear, my body gets all weird, uptight and not relaxed. Then I know I am acting out of fear and not out of my deep inner peace desires. We always know what to do, we just don’t do it.
Therefore practicing talking to yourself in a loving positive way every day is a practice I can’t skip, reminding myself of the great things I have already accomplished. I am loved. I get to believe it. God does loves me and at least one human in this world loves me. I am capable of making the right decisions because I am divinely guided. I try to keep a file in my mind of the great things people told me about myself in which I can access when insecurities kick in.
Last, as spooky as it sounds. I remind myself that the first commandments tell us “You shall have no other gods before me”.
When I bow down and do what pleases others I am making situations or other people an idol. When I give in and say yes despite my desire to say no, I am becoming a slave. I am no longer the master of my destiny but the slave of my fears or insecurities. Like the old say goes “until you love yourself, nobody can love you”.
I will continue to master one NO at the time. What about you?