No Means Yes

change covid guilt isolation margin Apr 15, 2020

No. It’s such a small word. Why is it so hard to say?

Guilt? Obligation? Pride?

But sometimes saying "No" is actually a "Yes."

  • Yes to margin.
  • Yes to boundaries.
  • Yes to rest.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one large and invasive “NO!” to all of us. 

  • No, you may not get together with your friends. 
  • No, you may not go to your traditional office or place of work. 
  • No, you may not travel.
  • No, you may not carry on as usual in your daily life.

You are likely reading this around April 15, but I am writing this a week earlier. We were just told by the surgeon general to stay home unless it is an emergency. That we need to work together to stop the spread of the virus. He used words like “911” and “Pearl Harbor” to be sure we knew that it is important to abide by their suggestions.

So, here I am, on a Monday morning, in my regular chair, typing on my regular computer, while I talk about a dynamic that is highly irregular.

Before I go on, I want to stop and pray for you right now:

God, thank you that you see us. Thank you that your love is unchanging and unmoving. For each person who receives our weekly email I ask this—that your presence would be undeniable; that there might be a ray of hope, even though situations might be difficult; that each one might be able to feel and express their honest emotions; that they might be able to draw from a deeper well of love as they are enclosed with their loved ones; that those who are alone will somehow have a sense of with-ness through online connections. Thank you that you hold us in this season. Amen.

Back to the idea of no leading to yes. Above I talked about margin, boundaries and rest. Those three may still seem like elusive friends to some of us. But I have also been hearing from friends and seeing on my social media feeds that people are enjoying parts of their lives they “didn’t have time for” before.

Here are some examples of what I’ve been seeing:

  • Family time – dancing, puzzle making, cooking.
  • Exercise – getting outdoors more by running, walking, biking or hiking.
  • Cleaning – organizing, purging and donating.
  • Inner work – prayer, solitude, reading, meditating and worship

People are reaching out to each other more (thank you Marco Polo App). All because we received a big fat “NO!”

The vitriol and contempt that were flooding the news and social media feeds has quieted (at least some). All because we received a big fat “NO!”

We are all more focused on what is truly important—gratitude for those serving us in hospitals, law enforcement and grocery stores. All because we received a big fat “NO!”

The COVID-19 “No!” has become a big fat “YES!” to community, to family, to friendship, to gratitude.

I don’t know about you, but I am praying that this big fat “NO!” continues on in a big fat tendency toward “YES!” to all that is good and focused and central, even after we move beyond all of this. 

It’s actually not too early to think about this. Let’s resolve now not to return to the “regular” in the same ways as before. Let’s let this change do its work in us now so that we will bear the fruit of being better people later.

Soul work and transformation are intentional. So continue to be open to the work that is occurring in you in this time. Meet God in that place. A pandemic is as good a time as any to take stock and re-prioritize how you view yourself, your relationships, your work and your life.


  1. Write down some of the no’s that have occurred in your life recently.
  2. What yes’s have shown up in their place?
  3. What has been your most difficult adjustment?
  4. What are you most grateful for during this time of change and isolation?

Let these questions lead you to prayer…simply sharing your heart with God. How does God want to meet you right here and right now? How does COVID-19’s no lead you to God’s yes?


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash