The Imagined No -
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The Imagined No

I never imagined the response I would get to a simple question posed on social media. I simply asked, “What do you think keeps people from doing what they would love to do and being who/what they’d love to be?” Apparently I struck a nerve – people sent me their responses electronically and told me their stories in person, and I was relieved because of what I felt was confirmed in their answers.

I am not alone.


“Obligations and responsibilities.”

“Definitely money.”

“Guilt for putting themselves first.”


“Fear of failing.”

“Fear of the unknown.”

“Fear–of failure, ridicule, looking like a fool.”

“Fear of not knowing they would be able to succeed in what they love…”

“Fear of failure or fear of success.”

Over and over, the word “fear” was repeated in nearly every answer. Fear of failing, fear of what other people will say and think, fear of how life might change… Even the fear of success. I was blown away at the fact that so many of us want something else – might even feel called to something more – but stay where we are in spite of the feeling that we’re not supposed to be there. Our fear, its many shapes and sizes, paralyzes us. We remain where because of the fear that anything else will be a colossal failure.

Certainly there are responsible reasons why we deny ourselves and our longings. Having a family requires money to buy things like food, so sometimes a paycheck takes precedence over a dream. Plus, we need insurance, don’t we? And dreams require a significant time investment. Then some of us over-spiritualize and assume that we are not good Christians if we are not content in the current. We think there’s no way Jesus would want us to step out of the situation we’re in. After all, he put us there, right? So we don’t go, don’t change, don’t allow ourselves to believe that the dream deep inside is really from God. We convince ourselves that we are simply selfish and that pursuing the more – whatever it is – is an act that is wrong.

Sometimes we use our responsibilities as our excuses.

Sometimes there is comfort in the fear because at least it is familiar.

I’ve begun to see that we live in the disappointment of an imagined “no” to a question we’re afraid to ask.

That imagined and presumed “no” is the reason we don’t take risks. ‘Am I supposed to take this leap of faith, Lord?’ ‘Is this dream I’ve had since I was a little girl your true calling on my life?’ ‘Will I finally be content if I pursue this crazy dream?’

We imagine the worst, assuming that “no” is inevitable. We call it “responsibility” and “taking care of obligations” when sometimes it’s really just fear and excuse-making and – this is my greatest fearwe miss why we were created. When we deny our callings and just call it being selfless, we are denying this world of the gifts that only we have to offer. We are not doing what is noble; we are doing what is comfortable. We are not taking the path God set before us; we are taking the path of least resistance.

When we assume the answer is “no” before we ever ask the question – we are limiting the life we were created to live. We call it many things, but sometimes it’s just being faithless. It’s time we call it what it is.

I am not giving you carte blanche to do whatever you want; I am giving you permission to do whatever you’re supposed to. Can the misery of pretending that you’re fine in the place you are in be enough to move you out? Can the nagging feeling that there has to be more for you be what allows you to search for it? Can my urging you that your dream is your calling be what it takes to move you from complacency to complete abandonment?

It is not selfish to be what God called you to be. Rather, friend, it is selfish to deny the world of the beauty that you will bring when you are who you were created to be.

May we all believe that today.

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