I always thought that being brave meant saying YES to everything that was presented to you. I thought it meant never backing down from a challenge (enneagram 8 here). I thought it meant pushing through fear even when it caused pain. 

But looking back at my time in college, I have learned that some of my bravest moments have been when I said no. When I said no to the things I knew weren’t good for me. When I said no to people who were toxic. When I said no to the “fun” I thought I could have, to spend time working on myself. These no’s were definitely not always fun. They brought a lot of tears, a lot of heartache and a whole lot of questions. But, I know now that they were always on time and they were always what God had for me. 

Sometimes we get worried that saying no is not what Jesus would have done or that it may not reflect His character. But let me tell ya, Jesus had no problem saying no. One of my favorite times is in John 6. You know this story. Jesus has literally just said yes to feeding FIVE THOUSAND people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. But that’s not where we stop.

 In verses 24-27, we find that when the people saw Jesus wasn’t where they thought He would be they went searching. When they find Him they begin asking Him questions but Jesus was CLEARLY not dumb. He knew they were simply looking for another food distribution. So he says “truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life; which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him”

WOAH! Jesus literally says. Bruh, no. I’m not multiplying anymore bread or anymore fish. If you are looking for something look for the fulfillment that comes from God. That is a hard no if I’ve ever seen one. 

So here’s my thought for you, maybe you do have to stand up to fear and fight through and persevere. But maybe, bravery means saying no to that job to spend a year as an unpaid Wesley intern. Maybe bravery means saying no to a boy, because you know he’s not pursuing the Lord. Maybe it means saying no to your friends because you need to spend time alone.

Maybe just maybe, bravery means saying no, just as much as it means saying yes.

Author | Morgan Attebery