Just say no

My face flamed as I got up and escaped to the bathroom, and I washed my hands slowly, focusing on every detail of my fingers as I tried to slow my heartbeat.


It was just a backrub. He didn’t hurt me, I didn’t hurt him. I did nothing wrong, I was hardly even attracted to him. He had pushed, so I had done what he asked.


Then why did I feel so ashamed?


I knew I was uncomfortable. I knew I didn’t want to, but out of fear I chose to comply, compromising a standard of the person I wanted to be. He was more than double my size, and he towered over me, physically and emotionally.


I had gently declined, but he demanded, laying his mitt-sized hands on my shoulders and pushing me down, all the way to the chair, and I obeyed his bidding.


The guilt weighed. My cheeks burned.


It is so, so easy to fall back into old ways. It is so easy to be the old you, when you’re in the middle of becoming the new one. You’re in between who you were and who you’re becoming, and you’re not certain of who you are right now. The old fear weighs in and it paralyzes you, robbing you of your right to speak the words burning on your tongue, needing to be spoken.


The silence covers your mouth, and something in your soul collapses for just a second, and all it takes is a moment to become the person you promised yourself you would never be again.

But the beautiful thing about grace is that more than one chance is given, when necessary. God is patient, and He doesn’t expect us to be victorious over our battles overnight. He takes the time to work on our hearts and grow them bigger and braver, until one day we can stand up fully under the crushing weight of fear and shame, holding tight to the self-respect we earn when we say and do the things we were always afraid to.


I know another day will come when another chance is given, another person wants what I won’t give, and next time I will look them right in the eye and say no.


And no feeling will compare to the respect I earn for myself when I do.


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