This morning, the news networks are carrying the story of a young teacher in Vermont who disappeared along a road one night. It turns out she received a phone call from a male acquaintance, asking for help since he was having car trouble. Reports say she was uncomfortable enough with this person to call an ex-boyfriend and leave a voice mail, saying where she was going. Her body was discovered the next day. The acquaintance and his wife are under arrest. Gavin DeBecker, in his book The Gift of Fear, says that human beings have a bad habit of seeing danger and then going ahead anyway. We talk ourselves out of our fear, rationalize it away, and put ourselves into dangerous situations for no good purpose.
DeBecker is a security specialist, so he's talking about physical danger. But I think we do this emotionally too.
Most of us, I think, come to harm incrementally. We know our own boundaries, but we overstep them, just this once, until we have "just this onced" ourselves into oblivion. Over time we walk away, one step at a time, from the things we deeply value, from what we know is real and true and genuine.
Here is what I want to say today.
When you come to a boundary. When you are uncomfortable. Nervous, anxious or unhappy about what you're being asked to do.
If you don't want to, DON'T!
You might not be able to verbalize quite yet why you don't want to. But that doesn't matter. You can figure that out later. Right now you just know that something feels bad. Trust yourself.
If it's too hard to say no on the spot, ask for some time to think about it. Get feedback from a trusted friend. If all else fails, pray about it. See what the Lover of your soul has to say.
When you finally do say no, just let your no be no. No excuses or explanations required. Just say you can't, and be done with it. Yes, the other person may be sad, mad, or scared. But they will deal with it. God can care for them, just like He can care for you.
And if you have already said yes about a billion too many times this week, learn how to be a quitter. Over the past few years, I have quit so many things I can't even remember them all. And yet, the sun still comes up each morning. The birds still sing and the flowers bloom.
And I guess what I have learned is that it is not up to me to keep the world on its axis.
So when I get asked to do things I don't want to do, I can say no. I trust myself to know my own boundaries.
And I trust God to take care of all the people and problems that I can't.