Sometimes “No” is the Right Answer

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We live in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell people, no. As many of us handle numerous tasks and responsibilities, we feel we are being pulled in a thousand different directions. Perhaps you have agonized at varying times as you have contemplated how you will handle such everyday matters as: “I have been asked to bake a cake for the bake sale. I need to attend the recital. My sister wants me to go shopping on my only day off. My cousin has started a book club and wants me to join.” Well friend, there are only twenty-four hours in a day, and sometimes you have to say no, even to people you love.

In order to contemplate saying no we must first establish boundaries in our lives. Understanding your boundaries, assessing your needs and expectations in any relationship, and being okay with communicating your needs, will help you establish healthier relationships and assist you in the realization that your needs matter. For many, setting boundaries is not an easy thing.

In a romantic relationship, people, both male and female, are often pressured to escalate the relationship to include physical intimacy.  People who have surrendered their lives to the Lord, have an additional concern when they want to honor God by abstaining from sexual activity outside of a covenant marriage. Many of us as believers set a boundary that we would not engage in sexual activity and would remain chaste whether or not we engaged in sexual activity prior to giving our lives to Christ. Saying “No” to a romantic partner is often difficult when you genuinely love the person but also know that honoring the Lord with your mind, body and soul, is paramount. Before beginning a romantic relationship, make sure the potential dating partner knows definitively where you stand in your relationship to Christ, and that there are certain principles that are non-negotiable. 

Similarly, if all of your friends are married with children and you are often bullied into babysitting because your friend says, “Oh she’s free…. She has no kids or mate…. She should be able to babysit,” know your self-worth by stating emphatically, “Sometimes I may be able to babysit, sometimes I cannot, and I may not provide an explanation for why I cannot.”

If you are having difficulty establishing boundaries in your personal and professional lives, I invite you to consider the following:

1. Determine what your non-negotiable principles/values are;

2. Be honest about how you feel, if you believe people are prone to take advantage of you;

3. Write your boundaries down, and ask the Lord to help you prioritize them;

4. Be self-confident: When you’ve set a boundary, its ok to let others know that you are not willing to give in; and finally

5. Contemplate the areas of your life that you need to set realistic boundaries.

Remember, understanding and respecting the boundaries for yourself and others is beneficial in maintaining appropriate relationships and self-esteem. Principles of boundaries matter. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson was correct when he said, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principles, stand like a rock!”

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