Just say No.

I’ve just read a meh-don’t-bother book called Love Skip Jump; Start Living the Adventure of Yes (what can I say, I’ve got a thing about Evangelical American women who write forgettable books). It’s about…oh god I can’t even be bothered, but basically it reminded me of the swathe of books recently that have ridden the bandwagon of Yes! Say Yes to Life and Wonderful Things Will Happen!

Now the little tricky fine print with this (because otherwise we would eat cheezels all day and get many ill advised tattoos, amirite? ) is that the Yes is a yes that is in line with what God wants for your life and you will have to carefully listen because you will need to discern between your own selfish desires and God’s true and perfect plan.

Now I don’t know if I’m just really crap at discernment (although I do love me some Ignatius) or if the lessons that I’m supposed to be learning are just too high brow and abstract. Message to God- simplify dude, simplify. This is me you’re dealing with.

So let’s look at a few personal examples to see just how wonderfully well saying Yes! pans out in the experimental petri dish that is my life.

I said yes when; my neighbour rang and asked me if I’d take the box of newborn wild rabbits that they had just accidentally dug up from their burrow. That ended precisely as badly as you would have expected it to. But slowly, over a two week period that included getting up at night for eye-dropper feedings.

Lesson here? No idea. Everything dies, maybe?

I said yes when; my boss dobbed me in to be interviewed because apparently I’m an amazing techno-wizz star type person who uses technology amazingly brilliantly in the classroom (I’m paraphrasing here, clearly) and therefore should be interviewed to model ‘departmental best practise’. Guess what? In front of the camera I babble like a lunatic and my chest goes red and blotchy (true fact; the director type guy felt the need to give me a big hug at the end, it was that bad).

Lesson learned? Disobey your boss, maybe? Call in sick when under pressure? Don’t pretend to be competent when you’re not?

I said yes when; I was asked to help judge a Romantic Short Story competition despite the fact that I a) am not romantic b) don’t like romance stories c) don’t know anything about writing short stories. Somewhere out there there’s a legitimately talented writer who was crushed by their failure to place and probably never wrote again. And somewhere else out there is a really crap writer who is either still elated that they won or perplexed at why they can’t get a book published. Sorry, by the way.

Lesson learned? Feign illiteracy when asked to judge short stories.

Now given that these are all, on the face of it, helpful acts, I assume that they would be God Mandated. Saying Yes to them, according to current wisdom was exactly what I should have been doing and the goodness in the world would have exponentially multiplied (yea verily) by it.

But to my mind they all ended badly (and I’ve just included the ‘G’ version ones. Believe me, I’ve missed out a few) and I’ve had no great insights or clarity or epiphanies except ‘conversing or mixing with other people often ends badly, limit where possible’. Which I’ve always suspected so again, no epiphanies.

So this is my permission to say No! Don’t be guilted into going out of your way for other people just because you think god might want you to. God may very well be playing Bridge with Zeus while you’re making these decisions so basically, assume that you’re on your own and take it from there.

What’s the worse that can happen?

11 thoughts on “Just say No.

  1. Don’t think God intends us to say “Yes” to everything. That is why there is a gift of discernment and we need to use wisdom. Know when to say ” No”! I am sure I would say no to little wild bunnies.

  2. Just say “no” to gimmicky how-to-be-more-holy books 😉
    I tend to avoid those like the plague they are.
    Saying yes to God is more about entering into a relationship with Him rather than doing a bunch of things on His behalf. If that foundation is well set, the question of what to do becomes less frustrating.
    Of course, the activities we choose do matter, but over analyzing just how it all fits with God’s plan will generally result in a sorry state of mental instability.

    • I loooove gimmicky how to be more holy books but they make me feel inadequate so probably sinful 😉
      And over analysing is my thing. Double fail!

  3. Ecclesiastes 3 says:

    1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    2 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    6 a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    8 a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

    It is a little known fact that a scrap of paper was found in a dig at Jerusalem showing the Solomon tried several alternative lines here, including “a time to say yes and a time to say no”. 🙂

    Just because something worked out badly doesn’t necessarily mean that the original choice wasn’t good (though it may mean that). I think if we flawed and fallible human beings get the most important things right we’re not doing too bad.

    • Was this the same dig in Jerusalem that turned up Desiderata: Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence… ?

      Eva, while you’re enthusiastically embracing No, can you think of any good reason for not giving me a thousand dollars or so? Anything stopping you? Excellent!

    • I’ve wondered whether Ecclesiastes 3 has been made into a picture book for children. If not, it should be (and the time to doe could feature baby bunnies, obviously),

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