The “no” word

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Two little letters. One small word. A huge impact. An enormous amount of time. Untold how many examples of broken trust, busted relationships, and horrid behavior patterns.

I can’t speak about the women in regards to this post because I simply don’t know how much impact the word “no” has had on them in the course of their lives. For myself, and from deeper conversations with many other men throughout the years, the word “no” (and all of it’s derivatives) often comes at us as a challenge rather than something that will protect us, or teach us, or grow us. More often than not I think that the lessons, often painful, and the outcomes of routinely dismissing the word in order to take that challenge are what teach us and grow us. I almost want to joke that disregarding the word is in our DNA and to not heed it is sometimes a sign of weakness or wussy-ness.

I spent the better half of six decades rebelling against anything that even might be considered an action that logically called for the word “no” to be spoken to me. I certainly didn’t want to open myself to looking at the reason or logic of heeding the word, and I essentially didn’t care what the outcome of not heeding it might be because this legend in his own mind was “a survivor” (my words). I could survive (or get through) any jam, predicament, problem, annoyance, etc. because I was a man and that is what men do. Hmmmm, ain’t gonna let no two letter little word stop me.

Above, I mentioned the word challenge in relation to the word “no”, and the reason is that I think most men are just naturally wired to man up (rightly or wrongly) and meet almost any challenge. So, how does that word present a challenge for us guys?

  • to heed it, we think, might hinder our ability to be in control of the situation, to be in charge
  • to listen would mean we have to get off the high horse and humble down a bit
  • it represents caving in which is counter to our sense of dignity as a “man”
  • it poses a threat to our sense of toughness
  • to heed it would force us to think that we just might be wrong
  • I think we have a stronger focus on outcomes (especially those we try to “engineer”) than consequences which all too often we tend to see through the rear view mirror of life. Ahhhh, the pain!
  • and last, I think we tend to have a pretty good repertoire of classic gems we can pull out of the deck when we do get caught with our hands in the cookie jar being the schmoozers and cons that many of us have inside of us.

This whole thought line arose out of a conversation I recently had with my accountability partner. (I need one because I still will lean toward ignoring the word “no”). He quipped that he wondered how life might be different for him if, for all of those years behind him, he had only heeded the word instead of fighting against it and it struck a huge nerve in me.

We closed out the conversation talking about the extraordinarily bountiful amount of grace that God has heaped on us and how it has impacted our lives in so many ways for the better. That, in and of itself, made me aware of how many times I hadn’t heeded that small still voice within me that so often said “no” and how that must have grieved God to see His child rebelling in such a way.

I am filled with joy now because I’m comfortable accepting that the two letter little word “no” really isn’t a bad word, a challenge to anything about me, but rather a love word…because to heed it means that I am accepting the deep love of God who still tells me that when He thinks I need to hear it, and it is out of love for me that He speaks it.

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