A woman realizes she has a burning passion to create something beautiful. She takes all the small and enormous steps one takes when upending one's life. This includes leaving her career. It's scary but somehow she feels as though she glides effortlessly through those initial weeks and months. Her family, friends, and even complete strangers are all taken with her newfound energy. It's infectious. Some might even observe how she seems to levitate a few inches off the ground. But then her momentum begins to wane. The next thing she knows she's faced with rejection and the devastating sound of "No." She wonders what the hell she was thinking months earlier when her life took a nose dive into delirium. She fears it was all for naught.
This woman is not me. Though she could be.
I encourage this woman and tell her her gifts are undeniable. I know she doesn't listen. The sound of "No" drowns out all of the praise and affirmations she's received since taking her leap of faith.
It may just be the most complicated word in the English language: no. Because, on the one hand, it's a precious little word that when we speak it, can save us from giving too much of ourselves away. On the other hand, hearing it can feel like a giant slap in the face. It signals the end of the line for dreams which are still just babies, infants we cradle and protect.
And yet, because this woman is not me, I can see on the other side of her "No" in a way she can't. I see how that one opportunity she just had to have to make all her dreams come true is really, as the theologian Martin Luther said, a "snow covered dung-heap." It looks all beautiful and shiny and pure on the outside, but on the inside it's a fetid mess. I see how not having it work out may just be the most glorious thing that's ever happened to her. And I see how almost immediately after being told "No," someone else, completely unexpectedly and not on her radar, says "Yes."
When I hear the word "No" I'm going to remember this woman. And I'm going to try very, very hard to look to the other side of it, trusting that somewhere, someone will tell me, "Yes."