There’s a word that’s been forgotten in our culture.

It’s an old word, one that has been around for centuries, maybe millennia, but it’s use is fading.

It is a strong word, one that confidently stakes a position.

It’s a clear word, with most of its uses leaving no room for doubt or question.

It’s a simple word; our children quickly learn it as one of their first words.

And yet it’s a powerful word; one that, once you really learn how to use it, can change your life.

The word?  “No.”

It seems simple, but it’s empowering.  Try it!  Say “no” aloud.  No, no, no.

Think of how little we hear that word in our culture now…

“I need more money, can’t you just help me out again this once?”
“You should accept people no matter what they do.”
“The government should be doing more about unemployment benefits/economic stimulus/climate change/poverty/revenue generation/immigration/etc.” ad nauseam
I’m always going to be this way, so you’re going to have to deal with it.”
“Give me what I want.”
“I need you to help out with PTA/fundraiser/ministry department/special event/soccer team/etc.”

Mastering the word “no” and having the strength to muster up those two letters in situations where it counts can make all the difference.  It’s an important step in a long journey of taking your life back from being ruled by other people and their priorities.

So how do you start utilizing “no” in your own life?

Like with many things, I think it’s good to start small.  Little schedule requests, little conversations you used to nod your head during despite thinking “no” – things like this represent great opportunities to start using no.

Here’s a good one to practice with at the grocery store: “Want to donate $1 to XYZ Foundation for Saving the Children of Uzbekistan from Cancer and Diabetes?”  Shew, tough one.  Sounds like they do great work.  Why not, right?

“No, thank you.”

Look, if your heart is moved and you want to donate to the cause, that’s great!  I’m just saying that this instance  represents an excellent opportunity to practice your “No” if you’re trying to draw better boundaries.  If you really care about that cause, go to their website and bone up for a REAL donation, not a measly $1.

“No” can change your life.  You can regain control of your schedule, your money, your relationships, and your self by mastering that one tiny word.

Try it.