For years I just said yes. Yep, I can do that. It was true, I could make it happen. So I just did it. Just because someone asked, and I could make it happen, I never counted the cost to myself or family and I did it. Really, I needed to feel accepted and my fear was rejection. My saying no meant my own rejection, so I said yes. But it was a weak yes. A yes couched in caveats to ensure whatever my effort was , it would be accepted. So my yes became less and less. My yes became, he will show up and he’ll be there, you can count on him for 75% and he might be 15 minutes late.. (I have kids by the way and we all know that is always an easy excuse.)
Basically I tried to have it both ways. I hoped I could get the acceptance of a yes, with the cost of a no. It was a passive aggressive and weak way to live.
As a man, my integrity is in my yes. My yes means that I bring all of me to the moment. My yes means that I show up physically, spiritually, and mentally. My yes is a gift and there is a cost to me that goes with it. But not if I don’t mean it. So the power in yes is that I know the no.
Jesus had a good point about this…He always does…when He said ” let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Jesus was talking to a bunch of guys who were trying to add power to their words by swearing on something. They were hoping that what they lacked they could invoke by calling on something greater through making an oath. Look, if I don’t have integrity my yes lacks power. It doesn’t matter if I swear on something or make an oath. Jesus said your yes should be enough. That means I need to work on my yes and for me that means I need to focus on my no. Because if I never hear a no then I can’t trust the yes.
So now I am digging through my relationships and finding the no. What I mean is that because I couldn’t say no, I projected that same thought pattern onto everyone I dealt with. I slowly quit trusting their yes, just like I quit trusting my own. It was a lie, but I believed that they really wanted to say no, even if they said yes, so I either wouldn’t ask, or spend wasted time having a conversation around their hypothetical no . It was awkward.
It still is awkward. I have to practice saying no a bunch, just to break the pattern. I have to risk others feeling rejected, and I have to deal with my own fears of their reaction. I also have to ask for things more and risk them saying no to me. Questions and listening are part of my new process to drill down a bit deeper if it’s a serious issue. A well thought out question can make space for the real no or yes to surface. But if they don’t respond I can’t spend all day digging for it. I’ve got my process and they will have to go through theirs. They are learning to trust my yes, and I’m learning to trust theirs.
Not everybody is ready for the new me but that is ok. Old and established relational patterns will take some time to adjust, but it is worth it. A few feathers are ruffled but it’s worth it. For me, it was a tad scary at first. I felt vulnerable and exposed. But with each powerful yes and each thoughtful no, an almost intoxicating freedom was released. The gift at the end is I get to be more fully me and you get to be more fully you. We get to have a powerful yes, areal no, and a more abundant life. Just like Jesus.