"C'mon, it's just one date."
"He's a nice guy. Just give him a chance."
"You know you really want to..."
"Hey, friend. Can you just..."
No. No you don't--and no, you don't have to. Why we've perpetuated this idea that women have to set aside what they want so that other people can feel good about themselves is beyond me. We've twisted this biblical idea that we have to care for others like we care for God into not taking care of ourselves at all, and that's just not true.
We were all taught from the pulpit about being submissive and obeying, but that didn't mean we had to do everything everyone asked us to do. It had to do with being submissive and obeying GOD! We were taught the Golden Rule, but we kind of forget the part about how you can't treat others well if you can't treat yourself well.
Think of life like being on an airplane. There is a reason the flight attendants tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you assist anyone else. If you aren't getting oxygen, you become useless to everyone else around you. You go a little crazy, lose muscle function, pass out and eventually die. Great. Not helping anyone now, right?
The same goes for everyday life. When you chip away at yourself by giving away pieces of your well-being to the wrong people, you eventually lose who you are. God didn't mean for us to do that. Sure, he meant for us to care for the poor and weary. He meant for us to support those in need. He did not mean for us to lose ourselves in it.
So how do we balance being kind and helping others with being able to say no and not losing ourselves?
First, ask yourself...who's doing the asking? How well do you know this person? Funny thing is, the better I know someone, the easier it is for me to say no. My sister is the easiest person for me to say no to. However, I tend not to now that we're grown ups and our requests tend to be more serious and respectful (and really, if she wants to borrow my favorite sweater, I'm excited she shares my fashion sense...now).
But I've been on those online dating chats where some dude that I met five minutes ago wants to meet at his house in some random part of town where we will be all alone. Dude! I watch the news! You could be the nicest guy in the world, but I don't have nice enough pictures for them to plaster all over the 11pm news while they search for my mutilated body (sorry, my mother's paranoia rears up sometimes). I know to say no.
Okay, so maybe those situations are easier to say no to. You just met the guy. But what about the people in between. What about friends or guys you've been dating a while who you're still working on building up a relationship? You're close, but is saying no going to hurt where you are?
So now you have to ask yourself, what are they asking for? Is the request reasonable? This decision is purely subjective, and the subjectivity is between you and God.
Let me repeat that in all caps and bold: THE DECISION IS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD.
I don't know why everyone thinks they should be able to tell you what you should think or what God is telling you what to do, but they do. So, when that guy comes into your life, and you pray on it, and you're just not feeling it...then that's okay. Say no. Your friends (and the guy) don't have to agree. However, it's your life. You're the one who would have to live with him every single day of the rest of your life. Not them.
If that guy wants to go get coffee and you just can't stand listening to him drone on for an hour about that self-help program that changed his life forever and how you would benefit so much from it...just say no. It's okay. You're never going to see him again anyway. And if you do, at least you didn't waste that one hour on that one day when you were able to spend time with a friend who actually needed your companionship.
It's okay to take a mental health day sometimes. It's okay to be lazy once in a while. It's okay not not want to do what all your friends are doing. It's okay to say no and upset or disappoint others sometimes. As women we have such a hard time with this. I suffer from "Just say Yes" syndrome far too often. I hate feeling like I'm hurting people's feelings.
However, I've found that saying no sometimes has opened me up to being better about saying yes when it really matters. I'm no longer so burnt out on doing everything that I have more energy to do the important things. I listen more actively when people need me. I'm more open to trying new things. I actively seek out new things to do. I find that I'm more willing to meet new people (shocking to the introvert in me!).
Finding your voice to say "No," is an important part of our spiritual growth. It's a way for God to guide us in new directions. It takes practice, and none of us are perfect. Just keep trying.
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