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A Decade of No
We’ve moved to a new decade (and score).
Seriously, How did we miss that “score” thing?! It’s twice as cool as a decade. Abe Lincoln would probably wonder… “Have I taught you nothing?!”
Anyway… the 2010s were full of many things.
Lots of travel, growth, new faces, and God;
Lots of failure, rejection, loneliness, and “No”
There were countless smaller, “death by a thousand cuts” type noes. They too must be flushed out and surrendered, but I’m mostly talking about the type of “No” that came when, it at least felt like, more might be on the line at the time.
Don’t get me wrong… I’ve certainly been a part of “Yes” along the way, but few significant ones weren’t preceded by at least one “No.”
I applied to squad lead the World Race in July 2013, and was essentially told, “not now”
Within a month… I was asked to squad lead.
I tried to be a house mentor for a discipleship school. I was told no.
Within two weeks… I was asked to house mentor.
I was told I couldn’t house mentor any more.
Within a month… I was asked to return.
I tried to get a job I felt built for and committed to (at least 4 times), and made it known I was interested, moving forward… I never got it.
By my count (which could be off), I clearly expressed interest in 37 women in the decade… receiving a “No” at least 48 times to the prospect of starting or continuing to share some time with me with the possibility of more in mind, nearly all of which wouldn’t reasonably be described as “mutual.”
Yep! That’s more “No,” than women. (HA)
I’m no martyr though. It’s not all one-sided.
In the 2010s I found myself delivering a “No” to 15 women brave enough to draw it out. Which is a challenge, because of how much I know the struggle of being on the other end, and how much I respected and appreciated each of them.
Giving those noes also gives me empathy for the women who have and/or will say “No” to me in my life.
There were a minimum of 30 more noes related to my home, ministry, and inviting others to go or invest in their own or a following generation… I stopped counting.
I’ve seen “Yes” turn to “No.”
I’ve seen “No” turn to “Yes” and back,
And I’ve seen “No” stay “No,” over and again.
I’ve felt the quick sting of “No” kindly and bravely communicated.
I’ve felt the gradual burn of it with delayed or no response at all.
I’ve seen “No” seem to be informed by truth.
I’ve seen it seemingly birthed by lies about me, other people, and/or God.
I’ve seen “No” be my doing.
I’ve seen it be others.
And sometimes it’s been more nuanced than that.
I’ve seen “No” for all sorts of reasons;
most of which I understood,
fewer of which I agreed with or liked,
pretty much all of which came from or went to people I’ve had great respect for.
… in the 2010s, I was on one end of a significant “No” at least 100 times.
That’s essentially being on one end of a significant “No” every 5 weeks on average…
For 10 years.
Whether given or received, every single one of them had some cost…
…some combination of sting or heartache.
Some drew tears and blank stares at the ceiling or the wall for hours
Some were more simply along the lines of “well that’s kind of a bummer,”
Most were somewhere in between.
BUT, as far as each “No” received… Their burn was eased whether in a moment or over time by the perspective that comes through some combination of praise and defiant gratitude.
Jesus’s “Yes” is worth every “No” given, received, and more.
It is His “Yes” that gave me the courage to seek the last decade of worthy “Yesses” through seas, mountains, and valleys of “No.”
And it’s His “Yes” that will continue to give me courage and strength to endure whatever “No” could stand between today and whatever “Yes” He blesses me with a vision, ability, and inclination to consider and pursue.
I’m not saying He endorsed each one, but Jesus used a decade of No to continue to reveal and form a character long within…
They further forged an unfinished man;
A man full of scars, hard memories, and missed opportunities…
A man acquainted with an occasionally new, and sometimes, familiar end of himself…
And a man who, if blessed enough to keep borrowing breath, is filled with enough hope to be stubborn enough to risk the next “No” in pursuit of what could be His “Yes” when the time comes.
As we reset the score… be on the lookout in the coming week for some of my lessons learned from “A Decade of No” that maybe weren’t so obvious in this one.
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