They Can Ask; You Can Say No

I’m learning today not to respond in exasperation or anger when people ask me to do things I don’t want to do or am unable to do. After all, people can ask. I can say no. Why become upset? Instead of thinking, “How dare they ask that?!” I step back and think that the question isn’t the problem as much as my response might be.

People can ask. I can say no.

For example, after I post final grades, students inevitably ask me to raise their grades. Some even beg for the A. I always find myself so angered by the request–How dare they?— but then I realize that the way they ask for higher grades with such boldness (and sometimes rudeness) reminds me of, well, me.

Don’t I approach God with a bold and undeserving, often ridiculous kind of expectancy? Don’t I also appeal to His grace on days I need it most, on days when I have nothing to offer and perhaps have even screwed up terribly?

It helps me respond with more kindness and empathy, I suppose.

And I’m learning to possess the strong and loving “no” in my life. The older I grow, the more “no” matters. Sometimes the no is actually the most loving thing. Sometimes the no fosters in a work of God we cannot see. Sometimes the no means a yes somewhere else.

People can ask. I can say no.

And I’m no longer angry about it.

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