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?

25 thoughts on “The Best “No” I Ever Got”

  1. I’ve gotten so many “no”s in relationships that I lost count. They were all tough to hear at the time but in retrospect I see how each one of those “no”s were exactly what I needed. I wouldn’t trade any of those no’s for the yes I got from my wife!

  2. Tricky…I’ve only been a Christian for 3 years and there haven’t been many hard decisions yet. I suppose God saying ‘no’ to a regular job after uni and calling me to France for a year to volunteer at a church! Not what I would have originally wanted but it’s turned out great.

    1. Where are you serving in France? I was a missionary to college students in France last year in Montpellier. I am absolutely fascinated and would love to hear how you got connect to and called to minister with a church there. I praise GOD for anyone who follows him and has a heart that breaks for that spiritually broken and dark country. I’m actually bringing some college students to Montpellier for a vision trip in about a week!

      1. Oh you lucky thing! I’d love to visit Montpellier, haven’t got that far south yet. I’m in Fontainebleau (just south of Paris). The town has lots of vibrant French churches of all denominations, with the Catholic church in particular having a fantastic outreach ministry. The pastor’s daughter is a friend from uni which is how I heard about the position.

  3. Well, I just ended a six-year relationship, so maybe that’s my best “no.” I don’t want to get into the details, but let’s just say that there were a lot of anxiety attacks and bad depression spells stemming from that relationship.

    1. Travis, I’m so sorry to hear that, but I have also been in a toxic relationship. Assuming that is what you were experiencing, then your break up isn’t so much a “no” as much as God saying He has something better for you.

  4. I can’t pin it to one specific “NO.” I can say they are hard to hear sometimes. Not just in the emotional sense but I anticipate the YES so fervently sometimes the NO doesn’t register. I really like the idea you’ve used here to look back at the No’s and figure out why they were good. It gives you more trust for God that you’ve placed your trust in. I think I’m going to do this periodically now.

    1. Ken, ooh cool. I hope I inspired you to take inventory of the “no’s.” Like you said, it does build trust in what the Lord has for me and it has always helped me to be more grateful, as well.

  5. The best “no” I ever got came when I discovered quite unexpectedly that I was suffering from infertility issues after my husband and I had already welcomed one healthy child with no difficulties. God said “no” to me having a child on my own timetable. Because of that I began writing and find myself in a new career today. While I hated it at the time, it has produced more blessings than I could imagine, including eventually welcoming another son into our family. I’ve posted about my “no” story on my blog.

    1. Jennifer, oh wow, what a road you had to walk. I think so many couples and women specifically, can relate to your story. I’m thankful you are writing it and sharing it with others, so that they can be encouraged knowing that a “no” right now is not necessarily a “no” forever.

  6. I can’t look back and say it’s the “best” no, but God’s said no to healing me for the past 12 years of my life. He’s said no to healing my husband for the past 6/7 years of his life. And I suppose I have to hope there is a reason for that no!

    Thanks for sharing what’s come from your “no”s x

    1. H, ahh…I so understand the desire to be healed. I have cried out myself for years to have relief from chronic pain, as did Paul. I can’t speak for you, but I do know that my illness has caused me to cling to God and seek Him in ways I might not have otherwise.

      As I commented to Rachel, the Lord is more concerned with our spiritual well-being than our physical well-being and will sacrifice the latter for the former. It hurts and we say it’s not fair, but He is still worthy.

      Thank you for sharing here.

  7. Hi Nicole. I haven’t commented in a while but I loved this post and have a little story to tell too!

    I took a year out before university and was planning to travel around the world with one of my best friends. We spent a long time planning the trip on our terms, and saving up for it. Then a month before we were due to leave, she was diagnosed with an illness meaning she couldn’t come with me. I battled with insecurity and fear at heading off on a four month trip across the globe, completely by myself, but for the first time I was brought to the position of handing the trip over to God and praying that HIS will be done throughout it.

    By halfway through the trip, I was beginning to realise there are a lot of wonderful things about travelling alone, not least of all that I had so much free time to chat with and listen to my Maker. I really began to hear Him speaking to me for the first time, and I learned how beautiful it is just to sit in His presence and enjoy His company.

    My “No” was a big, scary one, but by the end of my trip I was praising and worshipping God for how infinitely better His plan had been, and for how much closer to Him it had brought me.

    1. Rachel, what an awesome story and testimony! I love it! God allowed you to suffer insecurity and what He knew would be fear, just to have time with you. He is amazing. He cares more about our spiritual well-being than our physical well-being, which is not always fun, but is what happens when you serve a Holy God.

      Thanks for sharing this story!

  8. You know…I’m going to say I don’t know my best no yet. Over the last year, all I’ve gotten from God is no. I’ve lost my job, wife, family, friends…it’s been a series of nos. Soon, I just know I’ll get moved to a new place and I’ll see that God’s no has been good. I just am not there yet.

    1. Jason, I’m still praying for you friend. Following Him costs us much, but the love of Christ commands nothing less. I am eagerly awaiting the “yeses” God will bring to you. I know He has them in store. May you continue to walk with faith and obedience that you might see your reward.

  9. Not the most recent but the first one that comes to mind was leaving Christian radio. I had been in it for 10 years, met my fiancée, helped literally build a 50,000 watt FM station, and assumed this ministry would continue for years. Yet, before our wedding day, Kim and I (and the Station Manager) prayed that if we weren’t suppose to remain there, to show us beyond a shadow of doubt because we wanted to stay. We didn’t know if we needed to leave although we had discovered many troubling things going on.

    While on our honeymoon, the Station Manager was fired. When Kim and I returned, we were fired. Our prayers had been answered although not in the means we expected.

    Although I miss the chances to minister to people and meet musicians, so much else couldn’t have happened leading up to today if we had remained in radio. God is good, all the time.

    1. Rick, what a great story! Ha. God made it pretty clear, I’d say and like you said, not in the way you expected. But now on the other end of it, you can see the reason and the blessing. I love how God does that, if we only obey and say “yes.”

  10. For me it was the “No” of being asked to leave the church where I had been the Youth Pastor for six years. It had become more and more clear that we weren’t a good fit and that I was done with youth ministry, but it was my first “real” job and I didn’t know how to leave.

    If I hadn’t left there, I wouldn’t be where I am now, no questions asked. And where I am now is a billion times better.

    1. Jr., wow I had no idea that, that is what you went through to be where you are now. I love seeing how God takes what seems like a loss and turns it into a victory. He’s cool like that…

  11. The “no” you received from the guy you were dating hit quite close to home. Last year I received the same, “I’m not in love with you” statement. And it sucked as I sat and grieved the loss of him in my life while battling off a bout of pneumonia. But God was so present during that time, and it showed me that I was trying to fill the void of my heart with a romantic relationship, rather than allowing God to fill me up with His rivers of love. And I am so, so thankful that the ex-boyfriend said “no” to me. Because now- I feel so fulfilled and more open to God’s hand in my life.

    1. Dorothy, what an awesome testimony. It got me chocked up. God is willing to cause us pain if it brings us closer to Him. It is not fun, like you said. It hurts, but the fruit of knowing the Living God more intimately is worth it.

  12. As more and more time passes I have a harder and harder time with the concept of God saying No, or Yes. When we think that God is directing our lives to that extent are we not saying that somehow we are special; that he cares about us more than our neighbor? Does he not say that he causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike? Does God say Yes to giving someone cancer, but No to someone he likes better? Would we not be better, more understanding, more sympathetic Christians if we just accepted the fact that bad, and good, things just happen? To use your example, God said No to the one guy, but Yes to another. Does that mean that God said Yes to all those bad Christian marriages out there? Maybe God just wants us to live, and love, and make bad choices just like everyone else out there so we can sympathize, and comfort, and console, and BE Christ to a hurting world much more effectively than if he was guiding us like an over protective parent. I’m not saying your wrong; I just wonder.

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