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The Best “No” I Ever Got

“No” is one of the first words kids learn. They can’t communicate fully. They can’t state their opinions or desires yet, but you can sure bet they know how to let out a resounding “No!” when necessary.

Of course, as adults, we don’t like hearing “no.” I personally, would much rather have my life filled with “yeses.” Yes, you can Nicole. Sure, Nicole. But as anyone who has followed the Lord for any period of time can tell you, God is not a yes-man.

He’s very often a wait-and-see-man. He is also, when needed, a no-man.

{sigh} I know His “no’s” all too well. When you hear them for the first time, they sting, or they hurt, or they make me want to pull away from Him and retreat. But more and more, I am able to look back at the “no’s” God has given me and realize they were the best thing for me.

Sometimes the best “no’s” don’t come directly from God, but rather through another person or circumstance. I have three “no’s” that, looking back, I realize were God’s protection and provision. Yes, they sucked at the time, but time revealed their purpose.

The first “no” came when God took me away from Boston, where I had been attending college. Through a series of events, I had chosen to walk away from God and live life for myself. Needless to say, God wasn’t having it.

So, instead of allowing me continue in my life of sin, He took away my apartment, my friends, my job (thus, my money), and my dignity. I found myself on a Greyhound bus for three days trying to get back to Arizona.

I somehow knew at the time, that even though I had basically told God to screw off, He was calling me back to Him–back to the desert, both literally and figuratively. But He was calling me nonetheless. If He hadn’t said “no” then, I don’t know if (or when) I would have restored my relationship with Him.

The second best “no” was also a painful one, wherein God ended a friendship on my behalf. I had long been holding onto a friendship that was, truth be told, dead. This person had been closer to me than anyone in my life, but over the course of 10+ years of friendship, we had grown into women who had little holding us together.

I grieved this friendship. I grieved the process of watching it slowly wither away and me being helpless to do anything about it. I began to feel the need to make an ultimate decision, but I didn’t need to. God did it for me. He took this friend away. It wasn’t a direct “no” I suppose, but in a roundabout way, it was and it protected me from further heartache.

But far and away, the best “no” I ever received came from a guy (there’s always a guy, isn’t there?). In high school, I started dating a guy who I was certain I was going to marry. We dated long distance for a couple of years. Eventually we broke up but remained genuine close friends.

Slowly, our friendship was once again headed in the direction of a romantic relationship. Still long distance, we began discussing me moving to be closer to him and eventually getting married. After weeks of talking, through prodding and questioning, he told me that he didn’t love me.

I felt the air being sucked out of the room. I felt my heart stop. I felt the tears and anger well up. He tried to explain that it was more spiritual than personal. It didn’t matter. I was heartbroken–probably the most in my life.

Thankfully, like always, God had a plan. He knew that I wasn’t suppose to marry that man. God knew that my life would look very different from what I had planned. God knew that the blessing of my husband Jonathan would far exceed anything another man could have offered.

So here I am, married to the love of my life with three beautiful and cool kids, certain that the “no” from my former boyfriend helped give me the awesome life I have now.  God knew. He always does and His “no’s” prove it.

What was the best, hardest, worst, or most fruitful “no” yo ever received?

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Nicole Cottrell is trained in the fine art of button-pushing. She uses her skills daily on Modern Reject where she writes about the intersection of faith and culture as well as the unpopular stuff no one else likes to talk about. Nicole is a speaker, writer, discipler, and coffee fanatic. She and her husband planted the Foundation, a network of house churches in Arizona. Nicole lives in Scottsdale with her husband and two little munchkins, three of the coolest and funniest people she knows.