“No” Isn’t a Dirty Word

No. It’s one of our first and favorite words, and it quickly becomes a parental nightmare. Toddlers, ordinarily adorable with their sweet smiles and cute voices, transform into tiny terrors as they scrunch up their little faces and yell “NO” with an explosive, albeit impressive gusto.

And yet, somewhere along the way, we stop saying “no” and start saying “yes.” Even worse, we start seeing “no” as a dirty word. We associate “no” with weakness, and we base our worth on life’s “yeses.”

I’m one of the worst culprits, friends. I HATE saying no to things. One of my biggest fears is disappointing people, so I avoid saying “no” at all costs.

I convince myself that “it’ll all be OK” and “I can handle this,” so I keep taking on more.  But the truth is, I say “yes” to so many things that I find myself overwhelmed, exhausted and defeated.

Even though I may be doing a lot of good things, it means nothing if I’m not doing a lot of God things. Because the worst part is that sometimes when I’m saying yes to people, it means I’m saying no to God.

And sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I worried about pleasing God as much as I worried about pleasing people.

As I evaluate my obsession with “yes,” I feel a little ashamed because I find the root of it all – my pride.

When someone asks me for help, it makes me feel needed and necessary. It gives me a purpose, and it makes me feel validated. And when I always say “yes,” I convince myself I’m being a good friend, a good student, a good worker, etc.

Do you see what’s glaringly wrong about that?

When I say “yes” to all these things, I’m telling myself I’m doing it for someone else’s benefit, but really, I’m doing it for my own.

When I say “yes,” sometimes I’m not doing it because I love that person…I’m doing it because I want them to love me.

When I say “yes,” I’m using their acknowledgment for my affirmation, which is the surest path to destruction.

The problem is, my worth isn’t found in my works. It’s not tucked away in life’s “yeses” waiting for me to earn it. My worth is waiting in the love letter Christ wrote to me. And when I read His Word, I find it.

Your self-esteem isn’t rooted in what you do, friends. It’s rooted in who you are – which is a hand-crafted, perfectly unique treasure designed by God.

You don’t need someone to say “Good Job.” You don’t need that extra accomplishment. You don’t need to be busy to be loved.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is say “No.” Because when we find strength in the stillness, we can find clarity in our purpose.

If I’ve learned anything this summer, it’s that at Life Church, “we give up things we love for things we love even more.” Sometimes we have to say “no” to good things to say “yes” to the God ones, and those “yeses” will ultimately make us happier, healthier and whole.

Love Always,

Alli

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I’m just thankful.

Happy Sunday, friends! Sundays are my absolute favorite days because I get to love on the world’s cutest two-year-olds and hear another amazing message at my church that reminds me of the depths of my Father’s love for me. So yeah, Sundays kind of rock.

After church today, I came to my favorite coffee shop in Stillwater – Aspen Coffee. I love coming here because the baristas are so friendly, the playlist is second to none and the atmosphere (do I sound hipster yet??) is on point.

As I sit here in one of my favorite places, I can’t help but be so immensely thankful for everything God has done in my life. You know, too often, I don’t take time to simply be grateful. And I should.

As I was reading through my prayer journal (I get too easily distracted to pray in my head, so I like to journal my prayers), I noticed how much of it was me asking God for things. And although I always need to ask God for things, I also need to be thankful for everything He has already given me.

Looking back, I realize just how many signs of His affection I ignore because of my sinful, human heart. Too often, when I pray, I feel like God isn’t listening or present, when I’m the one who’s running away. I get so impatient in the waiting, and I insult God with my lack of faith.

Like my mom told me once, we want God to shout, but He speaks in whispers. For me, I always imagined this big, audible voice that would be like “ALLI. DO THIS.” But God doesn’t really work like that. (Which would probably be a little creepy anyway if you think about it.)

So I’ve never heard God directly speak to me before. But I have seen Him at work in me and in my life; it just takes time to realize it.

When I was thinking about college, I kept praying for God to show me where I needed to go. I never thought I was brave enough to go away to college because I’m incredibly shy. (Fun fact – When I was in middle school, my doctors actually asked my parents if I had problems because I was too scared to talk to them. I don’t blame them though…I’d get so nervous I couldn’t remember my name!)

But when I toured Oklahoma State, I met a professor named Dr. Spurrier. Dr. Spurrier was a special kind of person, one with kind eyes and a presence that made you feel like he’d known you your whole life. It was his encouragement that assured me OSU was the right choice.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but Dr. Spurrier was God’s way of answering my prayer. I think God likes to surprise us like that. He uses ordinary, flawed people like ourselves to create a beautiful story. And like any great story, there’s a lot of conflict. There’s a lot of struggles. And there’s a lot of wrong turns. But in the end, it’s a story overflowing with grace, and it’s a story ending in triumph.

As I came to OSU, I was still nervous about being so introverted. (I am a proud INFJ personality type)  But God came through again by surrounding me with a community of people through a student organization called FRC. Then, through FRC, I met my best friend, Ciera, who led me to Life Church, where I have met the most genuine, kind people and found my worth and identity in Jesus.

Now, I have the awesome opportunity to intern with Life Church this summer not because I’m good but because God is good. And without Him, I could do nothing. God doesn’t need me at all. But God wants me. And he designed me for some purpose that I’m still figuring out, and I think that’s beautiful.

I used to beg God for answers. I don’t like the whole concept of not being control because I’m one of the biggest control freaks you’ll ever meet. But now, I’m pretty thankful God surprises me. I’m thankful I don’t know all the answers because I get the opportunity to follow Him in places I never dreamed.

You know, I think God likes to take us to the end of our comfort zone and give us a choice whether to stay there or follow Him further. And I want to keep following.

As I reflect on a few of the many blessings God has given me, I am overwhelmed by his unwavering love, forgiveness and grace through it all.

No matter what your story is, we have so much to be thankful for, friends. I have a roof over my head, love overflowing in my heart, and the freedom to worship my God without fear of persecution.

God is so present and interwoven in our lives, and I hope I stop to be still and praise Him for it.

He’s there in the people I meet; He’s there in the sunshine on a warm summer day; He’s there in the car when I commute to Edmond (and if you all know how I drive… you’d be thankful for that too!!)

Sending you so much love from this beautiful place I call my home in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Love Always,

Alli

PS: Sorry it’s been five billion years since I’ve written. Also, to be completely honest, I wrote this weeks ago but I get really nervous about posting so, ya know.