I found myself earnestly trying over and over to explain to someone that saying no to people is not being mean.

And then I was hit with what I think is a revelation about them. And then me.

First them. That God specifically has not removed the people in their life that force them to repeatedly confront this issue. Because it is a core issue. Going back decades.

And God has allowed them to stay in a state of financial poverty specifically because if they were given riches in their current state, they’d let everyone take God’s blessing away from them.

God is well-able to provide others with money. The same way God gives money to us, God can give money to them. I don’t have to give away my money to you just because you say so. And that doesn’t mean I am mean.

So that was the main thing for them. But for me a whole other layer was peeled back.

Maybe it’s money more so for others; but for me, it’s love. People.

I was a kid when we visited my great-grandmother for the first time. I was still young enough to be sucking my fingers. I had never met or even seen this old lady before. She was so ancient and I had never seen someone that old before. In my mind she looked like Skeletor from the He-Man comics. Really scary. But the adults were standing all around me. Everyone’s focus on me. Telling me to go hug this strange old lady. It was clear that I was not wanting to. But no one told me I didn’t have to. Exactly the opposite.

Then there was an older male. Decades older. Who used to call me his girlfriend. When I was still a child. Not even a teenager. And he’d tell me to say that I was his boyfriend. In front of his wife, mind you. This had been happening for years. Just something I had to do. But then I went to public school for the first time and the girls in my middle school talked in such a way that I realized with much disgust what this older male was doing. My anger emboldened me to take a huge risk. The next time I said no. And there were consequences for doing so.

I was in middle school. Not even a teenager yet. Riding the bus for the first time. It was so crowded. And as I walked down the aisle to my seat, the boys would touch me. But I didn’t know what to do about it.

I was a smart kid. Ahead in school. Only thirteen when I entered high school. Still had cat posters on my bedroom walls and played with Legos. When one of the first days of high school, an older guy who I would later learn had already knocked a girl up. He was old enough to already be driving his own vehicle. Old enough to already be earning money and have his own business with clientele. And I am still playing with Legos and have cat posters on my walls. Are you getting the picture?

And my so-called best friend tells me during band practice one day: “Go talk to that guy.” So I did what I was raised to do: as I was told. I never saw this guy before in my life. Never met him. Didn’t know his name. Nothing about him. And me, in some ways still a very young thirteen, walked over and stood in front of him.

I don’t remember any pleasantries. He just announced to me right then, “I’m your boyfriend now.” He’d go on to force himself on me multiple times over the period of several months. Even when I physically tried to fight him off of me. All while telling me he loved me. And giving me gifts and attention that was making other girls jealous. So I had no one to tell. No one to turn to. Silenced.

I was much smaller back then. Not even fully developed. He was a grown man, comparatively.

And I didn’t realize until tonight that all these years I have hated myself for not telling him no that first day. Not walking away.

Fast forward a few decades. What have I been doing over and over? You might judge it as me being a loser or a failure. Or not responsible. But God showed me tonight that among other things, They have been helping me gain mastery over the “demons” that have been haunting me maybe even since I was born.

I learned to say no to God first.

Then I said no to pastors.
To friends.
To biological family.
To employers.
To owners.
To landlords.
To men trying to use my body.
To women trying to use my money and my time.
To others trying to push me around, bully me.
To teachers.
To coworkers.

To so many people. Over and over and over. Even in dreams.

To people I never in a million years wanted to say no to. People I loved more than myself.

Then I learned to say no to myself.

Why am I still single? Why haven’t I been able to break through financially?

Does God just want me down in the dumps? Do other people get blessings, but not me?

No. I feel like God told me tonight, no. Not at all. It has always been God’s great pleasure to give me love, money, community, etc. BUT not if the timing of doing so would be worse for me if I was still in an unhealed state.

(And I think that’s what kicking Adam out of The Garden of Eden was more about. Versus punishment. Or abandonment.)

You don’t give a child something that they aren’t equipped to handle. Not out of punishment. But for their protection.

Same with me . God knows my heart has been still very innocent. And God has protected me all this time. Through my extra weight. Through my poverty. All to protect me from those who are so ready to take advantage of me.

Until I was strong enough. To say no. To be confident in saying no. Unapologetically.

Finally understanding a lot more what Love is and is not.

Now I can start to let go of my outward armor. Because God has helped me grow stronger inside.

Whatever we insist on. However long it takes. For our healing. God doesn’t leave anyone behind. And Trinity doesn’t even leave any part of us, individually speaking, behind.

What is being healed in you? Everything we want is even eagerly waiting for us on the other side.

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