Perhaps the most difficult word in the English language for me to use and have used upon is the word "NO." Maybe it's because the word seems so inflexible or maybe it's that when I use it on someone, I feel like I am letting them down. Whatever the case may be, I have not matured to the point where I can say no with confidence and not feel guilty.
This doesn't mean I am a pushover. If the request is totally outrageous, I have no qualms with say telling you no. But when it's something I could do, that is when the pain and agony set in.
Of course I know I am not alone in this. For instance, books have been written to people feel comfortable saying "no" to others. But it's tough, especially if you have to deal with a whiney person who acts as though you've pushed their grandmother over a cliff, just because you said "no." Obviously there are coping strategies for getting around having to say "no." When I worked at an upsacale men's store in Newport Beach, one of my coworkers jokingly referred to the "white man's no." That is when a customer tries on clothing and instead of saying he doesn't like it or he's changed his mind, he will simply ask the sales associate to put the items on hold - with little intention of ever returning to the store. Another coping strategy I am sure we have all used is the good ol' "let me get back to you on that." Of course we're anxiously holding our breath hoping the requestor of the favor doesn't follow up or has moved on to someone else.
What initially prompted me to write this particular entry is that I am in one of those, "I will get back to you" situations right now. Late last week I get a call from my sort of pastor (I say sort of because I don't really attend his church any longer, I know, it's convoluted). Anyway, the call was asking me to serve in a capacity that I have done so for a number of years. And while I thoroughly enjoy the activity and the people I work with, I feel like need to do something new. Something different. But the guilt domes in saying no and idea the that I will be letting others down. Or is it perhaps an egocentric behavior rooted in some twisted belief that I am somehow so important to the activity that it couldn't possibly function without me?
Then there is also the possibility that not saying "no" might even somehow threaten my mere existence.
(To be continued)
Well, I gotta scoot.