The Holy “NO”

April 16, 2012

It was a Saturday morning; I was walking to the train station to catch a 7 a.m. train to an arts conference. I love art and prove it by rising early to attend a conference.

I hadn’t had much sleep the night before as I’d stayed up late doing some part-time editing the evening before. Some of my lowest moments and most negative thoughts come when I’m tired. There have been times I’ve left events late at night and had to walk home alone in dark hours. As soon as I leave the composure of people, I’m fighting back tears.

Early morning negativity is the sneakiest. I usually wake up with a goal I want to accomplish that day in mind or excitement over a friend I will see. This particular day, I should have been excited about art and the people I’d meet, but the thoughts came:

“Bet you’ll talk to another single man you’ll find attractive but won’t want to date you. Then, you’ll feel rejected and miserable.”
“You’ve heard most of these speakers today. This whole trip will be a waste of time and money. You’ll be bored.”

You know that feeling that rises just when you’re about to cry? The tears were about to flood over and the rain wasn’t helping.

What else can I think about right now? I started slowly by breathing a bit. I am listening to good music right now on this iPhone I have: what an incredible gift music is. There are people I’m looking forward to seeing at the conference. I haven’t seen them in months. It will be great to reconnect. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the last arts conference. I have been in the UK long enough to go to a 2nd Annual Something.

And the thought that lifted the clouds and got me on the train, sleeping peacefully. “I am going to go to this arts conference and encourage EVERYONE I see. Artists need encouragement. I will let God use me to speak whatever He wants me to speak to whomever He puts in front of me.”

Going to something to give rather than receive is a bit countercultural. It’s so easy to fall into a consumer mentality when you’ve bought your entrance, especially when there are seminars, bands and speakers–you think they are there solely to entertain YOU. Even those at the very top need a response. 

I did exactly what I set out to do. And, just as the Bible says, “it is more blessed to give than receive.” What amazes me is that the moment you give, you get the joy of the person you’re talking to reflected back to you.

“That is so inspiring! I think you’ve just helped me determine my next step,” a lady doing the same job as I am at a church in England said when I suggested she take a graphic design course.

I spoke of connections I knew to help a woman find part-time internet work. I shared my writing experiences at the workshop I attended and learned the freedom of not feeling “pigeonholed” as a writer. I had uplifting chats with artists, musicians and speakers.

I made it home happy. This moment, which could have ended in a sour day, turned into a milestone. When the negativity tries to overshadow something I’ve planned and am anxious about, I rise up again with the holy “no.”

As a result, I feel more free to ask time of people I want to see and admire. I’ve recently played an open mic in Glasgow, which is probably the best one I’ve ever played and sat in a popular, busy coffee shop near my flat for an hour playing music on a Saturday.

Saying “no” to the wrong stuff empowers you to say “yes” where it’s more beneficial.

One Response to “The Holy “NO””

  1. Rima said

    Well said, Nicole! That is so true that we really have to fight negative thoughts when we are tired. I’ve been experiencing that, too. Fortunately, with God’s help. we can make choices to keep those thoughts from controlling and ruining our days! I’m glad your day at the conference had a good outcome!


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