There once was a girl who lived in a glass box. Life seemed to rotate around her as the days passed and the hours flew. The only holes in the box led to the puppet strings tied to her wrists and her ankles so that those who sought to take control of everything she was could thereby do so whenever they chose. At night she hung limply in mid-air, waiting for someone to realize that she was slowly dying. The sun would sleepily pull itself over the horizon and she’d begin her dance for the puppeteer, rising and falling to the beat of a drum she couldn’t hear. Evening would roll around and dark would fill her box once again, and thus went her life. Sometimes, during the wee hours of the morning when everyone was asleep, she would move her limbs back and forth, delighting in how it felt to move them herself.
Then one night, a stranger passed by her box with a large pack on his back of strange new thoughts and ideas. His hands were bloody and shards of glass were stuck to his clothing; they gleamed in the moonlight. The girl raised her head to stare at him as he approached the box and met her eyes with his. Silently, they regarded one another. His eyes apologized for her life and her lot and the way he brought up his hand to the glass spoke volumes about his sorrow for her. Then, slowly, as if he was waiting for her to become accustomed, he smiled. More and more pearly whites came into view and his eyes seemed to sparkle with something she had never before encountered: hope.
He took a white rag from his bag, stained with blood and covered in glass. He wrapped it around his knuckles and, stepping back a little, slammed his hand into the box. The girl was flung against the opposite side of the box and she hung there, silent, in fear. What was this man doing? What was that strange look of encouragement on his face?
As the man continued to pummel the glass, the girl tilted her head with a new thought: what if she could be free? What if that face he carried was that of a man who knew how to truly live freely?
Slowly, she raised a finger and touched the glass. It was ice cold and hard. She knew it would hurt to slam the glass with her fist, but she was prepared. A few moments, or hours, or days, of pain was better than feeling nothing at all. She lifted her fist above her head and proceeded to hit the glass as hard as she possibly could. Just once.
That was all it took. The glass box shattered to pieces around her, one of the heavy corners landing on her shoulder and leaving a gash on her cheek. She stumbled and fell with the weight of her freedom and suddenly, sound took shape in her ears. She could hear the man, crowing in glee as he danced around in an odd fashion. From her knees, she looked up at the man, frowning at his seeming indifference to her position in the glass. Then slowly, as she took in her surroundings with new eyes, her frown lessened and a smile began to take place.
This was it. This was the life she’d been looking for — and all it took was one single movement. One single decision.
A “no” to her box and a “yes” to freedom.
The box was my life for seventeen years. The man is the idea of saying “no” and “enough”, slowly making itself aware and beating on my consciousness until it took full shape. The girl was me. The girl IS me.
Making the decision to say yes or no to someone is similar to comparing prices at the grocery store. One will benefit you and one will not. One will cost you much more than the other. When I was fifteen or so, my great grandmother was on her deathbed. We went to visit her in Corpus Christi (Texas) and I remember feeding the gulls and watching the ocean breathe in and out. Mostly, I remember her telling me, “Alex, saying no is a privilege brought to us by the women who fought for our rights in years past. It is okay to use what was given to us.” (Yes, I used to go by Alex.)
Mind = blown. She passed away the next week but I will always remember her words of wisdom.
It took me until I was 21 years old to understand this concept to the fullest, and to be able to exercise these rights.
See, the difference in how some people are raised and how I was raised is that my verbal and emotional abuse was laid onto my shoulders with righteous indignation and misuse of the Bible. “Allie, the Bible tells us to only wear skirts.” “We need to never, ever eat pork because it says in the Bible that it is unclean.” “Musical instruments are wrong and the Bible tells us why.” “You may not converse with girls who wear their pants too tight because they are directly disobeying God and they will be a bad influence on you.” “You can’t go swimming in mixed company because the Bible says to remain pure, and you would be causing them to stumble.”
While I understand that the way my grandparents choose to live is their choice, I have a huge problem with them laying their convictions on me as rules. A conviction is defined as:
- CONVICTION: (noun)
- a firmly held belief or opinion.
(Thank you, Google.)
When one has a belief, or an opinion, does one proceed to pour all of that energy into a foam sword and beat people over the head with it? No. (Although I’ve found beating people with foam swords has been pretty darn fun in the past.)
Along the same lines, does one stand there and take a beating from a foam sword? No! Move! Get out of there! Run for the hills!
The responsibility, once you hit an age where it is appropriate for you to make your own decisions, is yours. Whether you go or stay is up to you. Whether you say yes or no is up to you. As a child, you cannot move. You are to remain with your parents, for better or for worse. But as an adult, you can choose to bring the past with you in the form of an inability to speak your mind; to say no. Or! You can leave it behind, along with your hatred and anger and regret and all the other things that happened IN THE PAST.
On the flip-side, saying “yes” to the right people is a fantastic idea. Just know that by sticking close to the Lord and staying in His Word, you’ll know how to say yes, and when to say yes. When opportunities arise that you are uncertain of, or you feel may be a little too out there for you, maybe you should say yes. Maybe you should take the leap. That’s what happened with myself and Justin – I said yes, and I took a leap, and we entered a long distance relationship with 4000 miles between us. We dared to take a chance on one another and trusted God to lead our steps. We said yes.
Imagine if I had said no.
Knack it up!