Hello, and welcome to what will be for some of you the first day of Making Hard Choices: The Art of Discernment. (Also typed there, “The Art of Deception,” and that is exactly what we DON’T want, so let’s not leave that there, shall we?)
Our comrade, Jack Mandeville, sent me a note this week, something from The Nap Ministry. Now, The Nap Ministry (you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and probably Instagram, as well) is a fabulous project that helps people in ministry to sloooooooow down, to remember who we are, what we need to do, what we need, and to whom we belong. I love it.
So Jack sent me this Nap Ministry card this week that is so great. It’s about saying “NO,” something you and I have gone over a bit in recent months. Even further, though, this message from The Nap Ministry includes the following, “It [saying no] is a powerful meditation in clearing the path and making space for what is aligned with my true desires.” So far, so good, right? Keep reading. “I also love when folks tell me no. It’s a blessing to get a NO. It means the divine timing is not there. I trust the power of my calling and art to only align with what is for me. Start saying no and praising when you get a rejection and watch stuff shift for you.”
Start saying no and praising—praising—when you get a rejection.
For this person with ADHD this whole idea of praising hearing “no” feels potentially revolutionary. Why did I mention ADHD? We ADHDers often have a hyper-sensitivity to perceived rejection. Our perception can lead to shutting down, acting out, giving up, and just generally feeling rotten. Not that most people like it, but we often have this weird, amped-up relationship to it.
I mean, it makes sense, right? It makes sense that by saying “no” ourselves, we make room for our deeper values and desire, the ones that we really want to be intentional about.
But LOVING being told “no?” PRAISING being told “no?” Wow. I think the key is in what the writer says in the middle of all that. I invite you to read it slowly:
“I trust the power of my calling and art to only align with what is for me.”
I’m really going to try this practice out, I think. I mean, I’m still working on the first part, the saying “no” and acting on behalf of my sense of my own deepest values and desires. Nevertheless, I think that there’s also room for me to practice the second half by remembering that my sense of calling, vision, art, hope, whatever you want to name it, is more important than pleasing everyone by saying “yes” all the time.
Certainly, there are times I say “yes” very intentionally when it is less than convenient for me. My MFC clients have a lot of access to me, and I make sure that they can send up the “Bat Signal” and hear from me promptly. But that’s part of my art, right? Part of what I’m doing as ministry, as offering, as a sharing of my gifts.
But praising a “no.” Hm.
I am thinking of folks who’ve come to me while shopping for spiritual accompaniment and then have decided to go with someone else. I realize, thinking about it, that I generally feel fine about that, even happy for them. They have found someone they hope “speaks to their condition,” as the Quakers say, and I am happy for that. And I am thinking of folks who see me for a couple of sessions and then just vanish. I find I am less happy about them, although really, how different is it from the first case? I suppose the difference is the time, energy, focus, and attention I’ve brought to them over the two or three meetings we’ve had. That not only feels more keenly like rejection, but it is rejection. They have worked with me and decided I’m not for them. I have not found myself praising that “no,” for sure.
But what’s the difference, really? They’ve gotten more information, and they’ve decided that we’re not a good fit. Not only that, but they’ve done it with more knowledge, which should be good, right? Well, it’s good for them, but if it feels as though they’ve seen more of me and then finding me wanting in some way, not with their time, money, energy, well, that tends to sting a little.
But I can see The Nap Ministry’s point. How is someone else saying “no” to me really much different from my saying “no” to someone else? In fact, isn’t it easier/better if I think about it from a different angle? I don’t like saying “no” to other people because I’m afraid of hurting their feelings, having conflict, or letting someone down. In the case of someone choosing someone else to work with, I haven’t done those things. I’ve shown up, been myself, and the relationship is not developing in a way that the other person wants.
I think The Nap Ministry’s word, “praising” is important here too. “Celebrating” might be a good word, as well. Someone saying “no” to me makes room in a similar way to my saying “no” to someone else. It leaves a door ajar that would otherwise be closed by the time and energy, etc. that I’d spend with them. And I do trust my calling, my art, as the author says.
I just need to trust it more, and I reckon I’m wondering whether you do too. Saying “no” means putting oneself first in the calculus of time and energy. Maybe receiving “no” can come to feel the same way?
Let’s practice! Let me know what you think about this plan, and maybe we can talk about it in The Way of the River Facebook Community Group. I’d love to know that other folks are working on this process with me, and waiting to see what comes of it.
I think saying and receiving “no” are so significant for discernment. Not only are they important, but they signify that we’re making choices on behalf of our deepest, wisest selves. So I’m going to try to be persistently gentle, yes, but also gently persistent in giving this a shot.
All the love-
PS – If you think you might be interested in having some accountability or just companionship in this process, then working 1:1 with me in spiritual accompaniment might be a useful choice. Of course, there are other options at The Way of the River: Reading this Reflections, taking a class, joining a small group (opening in October), attending a free event. But if you’re ready and you feel a YES coming on, let’s talk about it.