Why “no” is such a beautiful word

I am in a strange stage of life. It’s a stage that I cannot define. And in twenty-two years of life I have never experienced anything like this.

Ya know, like first, you are surrounded by a bunch of other drippy-nosed rugrats in kindergarten. Next comes grade school that begins the continual climb to the envied Senior year of high school. (We won’t discuss the middle school years; we all know the horror.) Then comes college where you pursue a degree in your dream job and then swiftly as college comes it goes leaving you with that beloved job. Right? Apparently not, at least not for me; at least not at this moment.

I pursued my degree in nursing for four strenuous, formative, fantastic years. Oh, how I loathed it, but, oh, how I loved it even more. The hours of ceaseless studying, tears, lack of sleep, the criticism of crotchety nurses, being cursed at by hurting patients, and putting my life on hold was worth it if I could make a difference in someone else’s. But for now, my “dream” to be a part of the extended hand of healing is temporarily on hold.

The California State Board has a slightly longer timeframe to approve someone to take their state boards than other states (by slightly longer, I mean tremendously). Most of my friends were approved within a couple weeks of graduation in late April to take their nursing boards. I was offered an interview with my said dream job, but in order to sit for the interview, I would have needed to take my boards by mid-July. I am still waiting. I studied laboriously for all of May and June. I reviewed, took practice exams, and reviewed again until I was burnt out. I finally reached out three weeks ago to the state board. They said they were just waiting on my fingerprints, and then I would be good to go. Last night, the anniversary of  these three weeks I have had boldly marked in my calendar, I called again. After ten attempts to even get through, and an hour of being on hold, they told me they could not give me the timeframe that my application would be processed. They clarified it would not be “soon” as they were still processing the group before mine (the March 1-15th group) that they have been processing since May. I submitted my application March 21st. If I had submitted my application a week earlier I potentially could be working right now. I could have a job. I could be pridefully proclaiming that I am successfully onto the next stage of life. I could be someone doing something. But here I am- unemployed, in a waiting period, and at complete peace.

Peace? No, not a typo. Allow me to explain. I am the type A “go-go”, never stop, to-do-list-always-three-pages-long type person. We all know the type. Especially through nursing school, I never took much time to do the things I enjoyed for their own sake like reading, writing, playing my guitar, or hiking. We all have seasons where we feel we just have to do what we have to do to get by, but I rarely took time to do, in my mind, “non-productive”, restful things. DJ jokingly calls me “Max (MACKs) Efficiency”.

I talked to my sage older sister this morning (aka my therapist). She helped me process this stage of waiting and confusion. I expressed the guilt I have been feeling from not doing something society deems productive while I wait to be approved to take my boards. She helped me realize, that this period of rest, is exactly where God wants me to be.


Guys- God literally moved me across the country to where I know hardly anyone and slammed the door of my plans with a resounding “no”. What has happened in this “no” period? I have lived. I have let the creativity that has been suppressed so deeply within me come back to the surface. I have explored His awe-inspiring creation. I have read books for pleasure that don’t mention needles, aseptic technique, or catheters. I have experienced new cuisines. I have had the best conversations and time with my husband. I have found a church home and have started beautiful friendships. I have danced around the apartment just because. And I have rested. “This guilt about non-productivity is not from Christ, Kenz”, my sister said to me.

This guilt is not from God.

How true is that? God even rested on the seventh day. This guilt is my pride echoing the words of society that if you are not contributing or producing something tangible, then you are nothing. But God did not create us to be robots. For so long, my identity has been in my output and achievement, not in Christ. She hit me with a left hook when she said,

“Busyness doesn’t allow us to experience God’s awesome interruption”.

I have kept myself so busy for so long that if God had something to say to me, if and when He had something better for me, I could not have heard it above the deafening noise of my schedule. I fended off the plagues of doubts about my beliefs and faith because I simply didn’t have time to process them. Now, in this time of my life, I am falling in love with Christ all over again as He eliminates those doubts and renews my soul. I am ecstatic about the ability to pursue passions that He has given me.

I love the illustration that trying to do it your way is like constantly wearing a candy necklace, when God has a string of pearls for you. (Some may prefer candy, but you get the picture). Without realizing it was happening, He took everything from me that I thought defined me, and instead gave me joy. 

I do not know what is next. I don’t know what these next few months consist of until I receive my approval from the State Board (and from God) to pursue nursing. Maybe I will be working as a barista again in the local coffee shop while I wait. Maybe God will use me to make a difference in someone’s life, through a different avenue than nursing. Maybe I will make lifelong friends or maybe I will discover a new favorite running trail. I am such a control-freak, but what a blessing that at this moment nothing is in my control. What an even bigger blessing that God has this under control.

“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

Wishing you ineffable joy,

xo <3




70 thoughts on “Why “no” is such a beautiful word

  1. First, let me say those are some pictures! The top one told me I had to read the article just for the picture (why does that suddenly sound like a Playboy thing??)

    Second, at this moment you have NO IDEA how this resonates with me. I had double bypass in 2003. Because of the scar, I was told I’m now a member of The Zipper Club. Since there was no known motto, I made one up: “Angioplasty is for sissies!”

    As a nurse (and you are!!) you might appreciate a couple blogs I wrote about that and lessons learned. The first is the serious side which reflects your article. The second is a humorous take on it. I hope you enjoy. I’m following you now, and am looking forward to more from you!!


    1. Thank you for checking this out! It always is great to hear when my journey resonates with someone else’s. And I look forward to reading those. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mack – this is such a beautiful post. I’m so glad that you were able to reflect back and identify what worked and what didn’t. As a fellow Type A/workaholic/perfectionist myself, I totally understand your struggle. However, I’m glad that you were able to put your trust in God. I’m sure He’ll do amazing things through you. My favorite Bible quote is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Best of luck!!!

    Lots of love,

    1. Stephanie, thank you so much for these encouraging words!!! It is nice to know someone else relates as well. I love that verse in Jeremiah- it’s perfect for each day as every stage of life! Thank you for your comment and taking the time to read. ❤️ xx

  3. wow, very inspiring. I couldn’t have said it better myself! While reading this I saw so much of myself because I am also very type A. I had a to do list for today, but instead I am going to rest and spend some quiet time with God. thank you for this.

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog and for opening the door to your blog. I am so happy that you will soon be able to practice nursing–a very worthy profession. Nurses are so important to health care and very much needed. Sounds like you will make an awesome nurse!

  5. Oh my goodness… so beautiful and so true! I can completely relate, too, as I just graduated from 5 years of college this spring, married my best friend in May, and am settling down in his town. We agreed that I would be a stay-at-home wife (and also write for publication as I can) and the much-needed rest God has given me in the past few months has been absolutely incredible. Reading books that aren’t school books (what?!), cooking for my hubby, spending more time with God and in His Word — these are precious times that He has given us! Thank you for being someone who realizes that truth and isn’t afraid to talk about it and rejoice in it!

    1. Ah! We are the same person! I am so thankful that someone else can relate. It’s encouraging and affirming that this is truly exactly what God has for us during this time. Best wishes to you during this time 🙂 Xx

  6. I am exactly the same type a person as you. I have been spending months now applying for jobs with no results. I feel defeated and exhausted and beyond frustrated. I know this served as a good advice, to take pause but I am still struggling. My life has been difficult in every possible area this summer, love, health, work, and family (check out thisishannahlee.com) for my story. I hope I can take your words and remind myself to breathe.

    1. Oh sweetie, I hope things turn up for you! Sometimes even a shift in perspective can make all the difference, and taking it one day, one thing at a time. We all have seasons like that but just know “this too shall pass”. Find time to look for something (even if it’s a small thing) that brings you joy each day. I’ll be praying for you, Hannah !

      1. I really really appreciate it, I am truly going to do my best to stop thinking so hard and focus on the little things. Thank you so much for your reply, and for the much needed prayers xoxo

  7. I hope things have moved on a bit for you. I know a bit of what you mean. I have a nine week hiatus between my volunteer work in El Salvador and starting grad school. THis is the most time off I’ve had since I was thirteen years old. I am experiencing many of the same things as you: not studying, exploring new things, etc. I agree in that I am not exactly sure of the future but am working to treasure this time. Cheers!

    1. Thank you for sharing! It’s always nice to know that others are experiencing a similar stage of life as well, and that it isn’t super unusual. Thank you for reading, and good luck with Grad school! Thank you also for your work in El Salvador, that is truly amazing.

  8. Oh Mack, I love this post. You illustrate such wisdom.
    I am glad that you are receiving the gifts that God is giving to you. 🙂
    Even more, I am glad that you are being good to yourself. (that’s a gift from God too)

    This post helped me too…. I empathize with what you’re sharing especially with the joy that bubbles up when we just surrender to what is.

    Many blessings, Mack!
    Loving, Debbie

    1. Debbie, thank you for reading, and I am so glad it resonated with you. Also, thank you always for your incredible encouragement <3 Have a wonderful week!

  9. OH MY GOODNESS YES. I guess this is my part 2 to my comment back on my thread.

    You said you liked my post because of the truth in it? I LOVE your post because of the truth in it! Dang, you are similar to me (except the needles and nursing thing…you can keep that), and that’s why this post struck me so deeply. Isn’t it crazy how in these times of transition, we really learn to be thankful and see the grace that God has given us despite, especially for people like us, our “go-go, ambitious” attitudes? It boggles my mind after reading this.

    “Busyness doesn’t allow us to experience God’s awesome interruption” has to be one of the best quotes I have ever heard. Your sister knew what was up, and I really have to say thank you to her for also being there for you. Without her to support you, some of these words wouldn’t be able to touch so many people on this page. Such a blessing.

    Really glad God put all of us in a platform to write and express our journeys, because without Him I wouldn’t have been able to meet and interact with so many great people like yourself!

    1. Thank you SOOO much, for this incredibly thoughtful response. I appreciate you taking the time to read at all. And-hahaha- ok, I’ll keep the needles and nursing related stuff. That made me laugh. But yes, it is so incredible how God works on us during those times. We see them as transition, but God sees them as transformative. I will definitely pass that onto my sister too, she will be so encouraged to hear all this. I am beyond thankful for her wisdom in my life. Also- I totally agree- I wasn’t sure what was going to become of this “blog” thing when I started, but wow, the conversations and people that articulate such brilliant thoughts and share their genuine hearts .. blows my mind! So thankful for that and thankful for this conversation with you! Thank you again for stopping by, taking the time, and the encouraging words. Hope you are having a great start to your week!

  10. Be still and know that the Lord’s plan for you, Ms. type “A” personality, is even better than the one you had for yourself. Work towards your goal each day, but keep your heart open…God’s filling you with a “loading dose” of Himself right now…


    1. Thank you so much for the sweet encouragement !!!! You are sooo right- God absolutely has way more and way better in store than I could imagine and this time is just allowing me to be available to whatever that may be. Thank you for reading, Steve!

      1. I cannot even believe the state of CA would take that long. I was in there taking my exam within a couple of weeks of graduation, but it was part of our graduation requirement to already have our application process started. Having experienced bed-side nursing in various modes, I will tell you to enjoy the time for now. But, it sounds like you are already figuring this out! Perhaps this time is to refresh and prepare you because God has an amazing career in store for you! 😀

        Have you thought about volunteering? I volunteered for a non-profit hospice organization for several years and I loved it!

      2. It was actually part of ours too- but since I was in Indiana we were going according to their schedule (which was WAY shorter)! Hardly anyone from my school goes to CA so it wasn’t really something they knew about (from a timeline perspective). Thankfully, I was able to take my boards in October, passed and I actually begin my career this coming Monday ! I have an update post discussing what it entails if you are interested 🙂 Thank you again for the sweet words! I will definitely keep the non for profit in mind if I ever find myself in this type of stage again! https://mackmarie.com/2017/02/08/big-news-a-job-update/ 💕💕💕

      3. I remember the job update, so I got even more confused for a moment and worried about that job! But, lately, it is not all that difficult to confuse me!! So much going on lately that my head spins and I am way, way behind in the blog world, anyway. Now that I am all caught up – hold on to your nursing cap, because it is about to get real! 😀 You will love it.

      4. I just saw the date, no wonder I was confused. I saw this on a re-blog. I was like, “didn’t she get to the boards? I thought she passed?” I have SO MUCH catching up to do with everyone it is not even funny!! 😀

      5. I am glad I was just confused! I think I started reading your blog in October just as you passed the exam. So, my spotty memory added to my momentary confusion. ‘Mom brain’ is real! 😀 😀 I’m happy to catch up with you a bit and wishing you all the best on Monday.

      6. Awww! I totally understand! I seriously appreciate you taking an interest in it at all <3 It means so much! Thank you for your sweet encouragement!

    1. Awww, Brooke!! Thank you so much, dear. I’m so thankful you commented on this… it reminded me of God’s blessings from then until now. I see that He really does have the best in store for us. Oh, and I’m also thankful you commented so I can now follow along on your blog! Have a great weekend 🙂

    1. aww! Thank you so much, Hunida! This was one of the first posts I ever wrote- it’s pretty timely that you commented on it as we are entering a new stage of life. It’s making me all nostalgic & emotional reflecting on all that’s happened since then! I’m such a softie, hehe. So thank you for bringing me back here with your comment!

      1. Thanks for making this post so easy to find on your page! I’m gonna try to make my way through the rest of your reflections eventually. 🙂 This was beautiful. You’ve seriously done & gotten through so much & you’re only going to grow more & more!! <3 I'm so excited to keep following you on your journey!!

      2. Aww this comment warms my heart soo much. Thank you for your sweet words. <3 This comment made my night!!

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