You Can Say “No”

You Can Say “No”

Often, as women, we have difficulty saying “no.” We have family, friends, and coworkers pulling at us from all directions and in our quest to please everyone we will agree to whatever requests come our way. All of that is fine if we have the time or resources to assist, but it is not ok if the requests are not aligned with our priorities, our obligations or our values.

Many of you know the story of Queen Esther in the Bible. There are countless sermons, books and movies focused on her and rightfully so; however, I think it is worth spending some time studying Queen Vashti, the woman who originally wore the crown. In the first chapter of the book of Esther, it describes a huge, elaborate celebration that the king was giving for all of his kingdom. King Xerxes was throwing a weeklong celebration complete with all of the wine that anyone could want. Not only did they have wine in abundance but the scripture says that it was served in gold goblets and no two goblets were the same. Needless to say with all of this drinking, the king and all of the men were drunk or as the Bible puts it, “in high spirits from wine.” In the midst of this drunken state, the king asks the eunuchs to go and get Queen Vashti, with her royal crown on, so that he could show off her beauty to the men. On any other day this may not have seemed too bad of a request but in the midst of a roomful of drunken men one could assume that nothing good could come from that.

At the time, Queen Vashti was having her own gathering inside the palace with the women of the kingdom and when the eunuchs told her of the command from the king she refused to go. When she refused to go the king became angry and in the heat of the explosive mix of alcohol and anger he and the men decided to remove Queen Vashti from the throne. A few days later it appears that the king may have had a change of heart but at that point it was too late. She was gone and he went about the business of selecting a replacement.

At first glance, this could appear to be a sad story about a woman who lost it all in a moment of stubbornness and pride; however, I choose to look at this as a story of a woman who gained her self-respect in a moment of dignity and a refusal to bow down to potential humiliation. The Bible doesn’t mention why she refused to go but suffice it to say that she did not feel comfortable with the request and more than likely felt that it was inappropriate given the circumstances.

We do not know what happened to Queen Vashti after she lost her position as Queen. I am sure that she faced many challenges and perhaps was viewed with pity and shame at the loss of her crown. Although she lost her seat on the throne she was left with one of the most important things she could have…her dignity.

So what can we learn from Queen Vashti? In the last post, we talked about the importance of appreciating our self-worth and understanding how special we are. I believe that our own view of our importance dictates the level of respect we demand and receive from others. If we are clear on who we are, it makes it difficult for others to define that for us. We need to have clearly defined values and we need to specifically outline our priorities and be willing to say “no” when needed.

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