Saying No is a Balancing Act

Within every circle of human connections — be it vocational, familial, marital or social — creating a solid set of relational boundaries can often result in two extremes.

During a feverish life season, in which I was taking twenty-two upper-level credits, preparing for my and Jenn’s wedding and marriage, as well as staying actively involved in church and school ministry, it was painfully difficult to maintain good connections with family and friends. I had to use the NO word a lot. As a result, I would regularly receive (mainly from family) corrections, even rebukes. Although I indifferently ignored their quasi-insults, my bride (then girlfriend) helped me realize that they sincerely enjoyed my company and simply felt I didn’t care about quality time. Subsequently, I valiantly tried meeting with family regularly, which was only previously difficult because I’d never intentionally scheduled hangouts. They felt loved. And I felt rebuke-free.

Aiming for balance in declining others’ requests is not always saying no (one extreme) or never saying no (the other extreme) but in setting healthy boundaries for friends and families. One can’t simply ignore family, lest they cease to be family. Additionally, one shouldn’t jump at the opportunity to always mingle with friends.

This life lesson is ultimately found in our relationships with the Father. I’ve never been fond of name-and-claim theology. I’m more convinced of name-and-ask, then wait for Papa God’s “yes,” “no” or “later,” just like any good dad.

In closing, planning and executing lines of demarcation between myself and others has greatly helped in preventing frustration and promoting ease of mind.

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