Slowly, deliberately, with full attention to every smooth muscle of your lungs, breathe in your purpose. Close your eyes and remember that Love made you; slowly and deliberately. See your beautiful self through the eyes of the Divine and wrap yourself in the vastness of Love. As you exhale, unable to hold your purpose captive any longer, steel your nerves, and yell from, and into your soul, “NO!”
Breathe, Queen Vashti.
Your ‘NO’ comes at a cost. For you have said ‘NO’ to the beckoning of the king, the powerful, the elite. NO, you will not parade naked before him and those he is trying to impress. NO, you will not subject yourself to their gaze and his despicable whim. NO, you will not perform relationship without intimacy, self-determination, mutual pleasure, and reciprocity.
Queen Vashti’s NO brought about a loss; a loss of her position and her way of life. Similarly, Your NO may mean a loss of title, relationship, community, or church home. Queen Vashti’s NO created a vacancy that was filled through a romanticized process of objectification. Despite the depths of this patriarchal oppression, Queen Esther rose to power, and eventually embraced a soul-level NO of her own. A NO of resistance that saved her people, and ultimately saved herself.
My NOs have come and will come with loss, but if they create a vacancy for another Queen to get free, then from and into my soul I say, NO.
Choose your NO’s carefully, Queen. But, choose them. Sometimes, they choose you for such a time as this.
Vahisha Hasan is a faith-rooted organizer working at the intersections of faith, social justice, and mental health. She is the Executive Director of Movement in Faith, a project of Transform Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. She is a powerful public speaker, transformative facilitator, and social justice trainer, with a deeply prophetic voice and imagination for how faith communities can be an active part of collective liberation. She is an Assistant Professor of Human Services at Memphis Center for Urban and Theological Studies (MCUTS) and serves as Director of the Mental Health Advocacy Institute which seeks to destigmatize mental health in faith communities. She is also writing the curriculum for the addition of a bachelor’s degree program in Applied Psychology. Vahisha holds a dual Master’s of Divinity and Master’s of Mental Health Counseling with an Education Specialist Certification from Gardner-Webb University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a concentration in Interpersonal Organization from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.