This is the second post in my What does LOVE look like? series.  You can read the first post here. Today, I am joined by my good friend, Susan Stilwell. I first met Susan at the Allume conference in 2013. Sometimes, it is hard for me to believe that I have only known her for 2 1/2 years! We have had the privilege of seeing each other in person a few times since then. Susan knows scripture, is a techy and designed my new website! She is insightful and always knows what to say to make me see the good side of things. And she is the friend I referred to in this post. Read Susan’s post and let me know in the comments what you think.


Sometimes LOVE looks like saying NO.

I’ve always been a people pleaser.

It’s not surprising since I’m a first born who doesn’t like conflict, and who genuinely likes helping people. So when someone asks for my help, my go-to response is yes and these beliefs became my truth:

When you say yes, it makes people happy or at least relieved.
When you say yes, people approve of you.
When you say yes, people like you. (Cue Sally Fields’ Oscar acceptance speech, “You like me!”)

So I said yes as often as possible, even though it made me feel like the proverbial hamster in a wheel. I felt like saying no required an accompanying reason—an irrefutable reason (and my reasons were often quite refutable). But saying yes was the path of least resistance.

Psychologists say we’ll do more to avoid pain than we will to experience pleasure, and I was living proof of that. Heck, I’m still proof of that from time to time, but the older I get the more comfortable I am saying no.

One benefit of aging, and there aren’t a whole heap of them so listen closely:

You figure out what’s right and best for YOU.

Some requests just aren’t worth your time. They may not be matched to your skills or they may need to be abandoned altogether.

Some requests may be well suited for you, but are actually better suited for someone else. When we’re brave and smart enough to say no, it forces the requester to keep looking. My epiphany came with this phone call:

“We invited [someone else] to speak at our women’s event, but she referred us to you. ”

Love Looks Like Saying No

I hung up the phone and realized that someone else’s no opened the door for my yes.

Not only does saying no provide an opportunity to bless a random someone else, saying no blesses the people you love most.

Saying no not only means turning down opportunities, but it also includes turning away from distractions. Like devices.

And I’m stepping on my own toes here, so I’ll confess this here and now:


I could have my laptop open all day long. My Kindle stays nearby so I can squeeze in a chapter between appointments. And my iPhone? Sweet mercy, who ever imagined that something the size of a deck of cards could provide an endless stream of entertainment!

Looking at our devices is a way of life here in America, but we can’t be fully engaged in two places at once. I can’t pay attention to the conversation at the table if I’m responding to a text message or liking something on Facebook. Or worse: documenting our fun time on Instagram.

In our family, love means adopting some gadget guidelines when we’re together: shutting down social media, closing the Kindle, silencing the text messaging. Taking a break from the digital communication so I can engage with the real life people right in front of me.

Questions for you: Have you learned to say no? Do you see a benefit to saying no? Have you got to experience a yes because someone else said no?

Susan Stilwell consults, writes and speaks on a variety of topics. Her clients appreciate her technical expertise and attention to detail on their websites, projects, and social media strategies. Technical “how-tos” are Susan’s favorite articles to write. You can find her working as a blog designer and contributing writer at Fistbump Media. Susan also serves as a hospital chaplain associate and is a voracious scripture memorizer. She’s a conference speaker and passionate expositor of God’s Word, and active on Twitter, Facebook, and


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