Alright, I’m going to drop a knowledge bomb on you guys, ready? A study was done on how many times an average toddler hears the word “no” a day, and the number came out to be 400 times a day. SERIOUSLY! At first I was completely shocked by this number and thought that can’t be! That is until I began to think about my young self, and let me tell you, if you were anything like me as a child I’m sure my number was hovering more around the 600 mark. I have the home videos to prove it, peeps! I was always a wild&free spirit, dancing, creating, and pretending but of course testing the limits at the same time. Being the oldest I was used to having the attention solely on me, that is until my brother came along and took some of my 4-year-old spotlight. (I mean shouldn’t he know better?! 😉 )
So I imagine my daily “no’s” being something like this…”NO”, Nicole you cannot put lipstick on your brother, “NO”, I cannot videotape your dance party all day long, and “NO”, you cannot wear your princess costume to preschool (but Mooomm). I think you all get the picture. (Lord have mercy on me the day I have my own kids)
I think one thing we all struggle with is the art of accepting (and appreciating) a good ol’ “no”. It seems that the older we get, the more we take these “no’s” personally. “No’s” aren’t always meant to harm us, in fact, I dare to say that “no’s” can be a pivotal moment that can help us reach our best yes. We must keep our eyes and hearts open to discerning an opportunity versus our God-given purpose. There is a difference. Understanding and knowing that difference leads us in the direction of our best yes, helping us to cope with the “no’s” along the way.
When I was pursuing Nursing I saw a job posting from the university I attended for a Peer Health Educator position. What a great opportunity I thought, it’s on campus, fair pay, flexible hours, it relates to my major, and I would get to mentor to my peers, something I have always enjoyed. Best of all, I could pick what my “focus” area would be and I was so excited when I saw health & nutrition as an option! How perfect?! I had recently gotten my personal training certification and couldn’t see how I wouldn’t be a good fit for this position.
I showed up to the interview ready to rock this guys socks off, and let me tell you, I most definitely did until he said, “So, I see that you are interested in the health and nutrition focus, but I wanted to see if you would be willing to flex to sexual health if needed. As Peer Health Educators you help put together sex week on campus.” (for those who don’t know ,this is a common thing for public university campuses, they make a whole week out of handing out free condoms, having “sex” talks and much more.) He looked at me for a response, I took a deep breath and said, “If at all possible, I would prefer to stay with the health and nutrition focus, my faith is something that is important to me, and what you just spoke of is something I wouldn’t be comfortable doing.”
I wish you all would’ve been there to see it because it was the most EPIC “NO” expression I’ve ever received. I could just imagine what was going through his mind. “No”, you aren’t hired. “No”, I don’t want to hear anything else you have to say. “No”, you aren’t what we are looking for. He politely wrapped up our interview not long after my “politically incorrect” remark and I walked out of that interview confident that I was going to receive a big fat “NO”. Sure enough, I got a call a week later, saying just that. (of course in a more polite way, but you get the picture). The beautiful thing is this was one of the first “no’s” I was PROUD of, like I was fist-bumping myself, rock on Jesus girl!
This is why it is crucial as Disciples of Christ to learn to embrace the “no’s” this world throws at us because I believe a lot of the “no’s” we receive are for doing things exactly the way Christ envisions. In John 15:18 we are able to remind ourselves “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” The world we live in today lives so far away from the truth of Christ. It is a place of greed, hate, sin, immorality and darkness. And you know what we are called to be in spite of all of this? LIGHT.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”-Matthew 5:14-16.
So although, the man’s face didn’t light up with my response, God’s did. I didn’t allow this fallen opportunity diminish my God-given purpose. By being graced with that “no”, it allowed God to reveal to me His best yes for my life. I was presented not long after with a job position as an OB Tech, which at the time was a dream come true for me since I wanted to be a Labor and Delivery Nurse. There I learned how to assist in C-sections, what it looks like to be with someone in their most vulnerable moments, and I got to see the most precious gift of all, life enter into this world. Not only that, but with the blessing of third shift I got to go in the nursery and hold the newborns. I would sit sometimes for an hour at a time just in awe of God’s beauty, their tiny nails, their soft skin, their gentle coos, as they took in this new world. Each time I held a baby I would sit with them and gently sway back and forth in the rocking chair praying over them. In my mind I prayed that God may keep them safe, that they may grow up and know their worth, that they may be disciples of Christ and that God’s hand would be so evident in their life.
My dear friends, how beautiful a “no” can be.