A Year of No

I love a good Ted Talk; those are my jam. I could sit and watch them for hours. One of my favorite TED Talks is from Shonda Rhimes. If you know me at all, you know I’m moonstruck over Grey’s Anatomy. They are my people. And creator Shonda Rhimes, she’s pretty cool to me. So when I saw that she had a TED Talk, it was like *fireworks*. I had to watch it.



In this talk, Shonda shares how she spent an entire year saying yes to the things that she would normally say no to. She pushed past her fears and said yes to new experiences, and to things that made her uncomfortable and to even slowing down and spending time with her children. Saying yes radically changed her life. It opened her up to things she would never have done before, things she only dreamed about. For her, something about saying yes unlocked potential that she didn’t even realize that she had.


Just do it! Say yes and take that leap of faith! Make it happen! You are in charge of your destiny! If you don’t do it, no one will do it for you! Your dreams won’t work unless you do.


This is the belief system that I lived by. I felt compelled to make stuff happen! And if it wasn’t happening in my life, it was because I wasn’t working hard enough. So I pushed, I lept, I worked, and created as many opportunities for myself as I could. I worked my TAIL off to make the picture in my head of what my life was “supposed to be” happen. I was going to give it everything that I had until I made it happen. Until I was successful.


I wasn’t going to do a word of the year for 2018. I had decided against it, but God had other plans. I was sitting in church on a Thursday night for our midweek service. I had just finished leading praise and worship and for me, that’s a time that God speaks so clearly to me. I can hear clear instruction and direction usually because I’ve had to be open and in tune with Him to lead people into worship. I sat down and as clear as day, God gave me my instructions for the year:


“Be Still. Say no before you say yes.”


Yikes. What God was saying to me is that I am so quick to say yes to things that He hasn’t designed for my life. I’m so quick to create things and try to force things to happen that He doesn’t have for me or that He doesn’t have for me yet. And this creates a mess. The Bible teaches in Proverbs 19:21, “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.”


Clearly, this is still new for me and I’m still learning what God means but for now, I know two things.


First, To say no before I say yes requires me to run everything through the grid of prayer. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” The part of the scripture that says see His will in all you do requires you to pray. You can’t seek His will if you aren’t praying. I have decided in my heart that when I slow down and say no, it allows me to pray. To take a moment to seek His will. This then gives the opportunity for HIM to direct my steps instead of trying to figure out through human logic what is best for me.


Secondly, This gives me the opportunity to check my motives. Why do I want to take part in this? Is it for my own selfish ambition? God is truly working selfishness and selfish ambition out of me. Boy does it hurt, but it’s the truth (and necessary). Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” This passage goes on to say that we should follow the example of Christ who humbly served others. When I stop to say no first, I must ask is this for me or is it for others? Am I seeking to serve or to be served? Am I looking to give or to gain? These are the tough questions, but God is rooting out the things in me that have driven me to seek an ideal of success that He does not have for me.


Unlike Shonda Rhimes, I won’t be saying yes to everything. I’ll be saying no a whole lot more than ever before. But I guess in essence that no will actually mean that I’m saying yes to one important thing: God’s will for my life. And that’s invaluable to me.


Here’s to a year of no.


Do you have a word for 2018? What is it? Comment below or email me at brittany.c.harris@gmail.com. I’d love to support you in your focus for this year! Like I always say, let’s continue to grow together as we grow in Him.

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