“God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by subtracting.” Meister Eckhart
Thus begins the chapter on “The Practice of Saying No” in An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor.
So many thoughts as I read this chapter! (No surprise, right? Even when Moses was given the 10 commandments the most print was given to the Sabbath and saying no. So I/we are in a long line of folks who have been thinking about noes and yeses.)
This fall I read The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst. You can tell by the title Lysa advocates for good yeses. I wrote two of the quotations from this book I wrote down are:
“My attitude of love may trump my activity every time.” Lysa TerKeurst and
“If you’ve found yourself saying no to everything in an effort to establish boundaries, remember Ecclesiastes 7:18: ‘Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.’ We can’t only say no to things. There is a time and place to say yes … and maybe this small-no principle can help bring balance back to the way you answer requests.” Lysa TerKeurst
How do you see last chapter and the practice of living with purpose and this chapter’s the practice of saying no, compliment each other? How do you maintain, even embrace, the tension these two practices? How do you factor stage of life into these practices since each stage will come with its own unique benefits and challenges?
As a community we’ve talked about Sabbath and practiced a Sabbath week. This is a growing community and some may have missed that week, if you did or something in this chapter piqued your interest here are the posts from that week:
We saw that the Creator has woven Sabbath into the very rhythms of nature. Remember the tusk of the narwhal?
And one more resource when it comes to Sabbath, my friend Shelly Miller (who has written for Velvet Ashes about waiting to move to England) created a Sabbath Society two years ago. You can read more about it here and if you want, sign up for weekly encouraging emails regarding the joys and struggles of this practice.
One final thought in regards to this week’s theme of expecting and expectations. What do you understand God to expect from you when it comes to practicing no and yes? How much have you needed to realign your understanding to what God has said versus what you thought he said or were taught he said?
Over to you :). How do you practice saying no? What thoughts stirred in you as you read, underlined, and starred? Any points you disagree with? You know my mantra, disagreements welcome too! This book is a place to start the discussion, not to end it.
P.S. Next week we’ll looking at the Practice of Carrying Water
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