Posted by: JennyRain | October 29, 2009

What are your non-negotiables?

Every one of us has non-negotiables whether we know it or not.

A non-negotiable is something that you will not compromise on, no matter what. Some people are very intentional about their non-negotiables and others seem to live by a code that demonstrates their non-negotiables, but they have not officially “named” them. A non-negotiable is something that is:

  • Difficult or impossible to settle by arbitration, mediation, or mutual concession: a nonnegotiable demand.
  • Nonmarketable. 

Some examples of non-negotiables are:

  • The Marines and The Navy: Honor, Courage, Committment
  • The Army: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage.
  • God first (A pastor I know)

You have encountered an individual’s non-negotiable when they are not willing to budge an inch and would sacrifice anything to keep their non-negotiable in place.

After a particularly grueling ten months in 2005 where obstacles seemed the norm in my life and depression was my constant companion, I developed some non-negotiables. During this trying time, I wrestled tremendously with God about who He really was and struggled with who I was in relation to God. Some of the difficulties I was walking through caused me to question everything in my life and they rattled my faith in God (and in humanity).

As I walked through this time in my life when my expectations were crushed, things I thought were good were systematically removed, and spiritual practices that I had kept in place for years were “not working,” I stared incredulously at the barren landscape of what was once my bedrock foundation wondering what happened to all of the meaning in my life.

The longer I stared, the more dead trees I watched topple over and decay in the scorching sun. I watched birds drop out of the sky and fall to the drought-induced cracks in the ground. Everywhere I looked, death peered back at me. There was nothing living in my landscape of life save the sun itself.

I no longer had any “hooks” to hang my beliefs, values, and practices on.

I believe this season was by design. As a result of this season, a great deal of prayer, and wise counsel from my pastor in Georgia, Pastor Lee Ross, God began to work in places in my heart that I did not even know existed.

He resurrected an Identity of Himself that was not a projection of my own (to the degree that we can have an image of God that is removed of any filtering, that is). I began to see Him as separate-Other rather than enmeshed-Self. Circumstances that I found myself in stopped defining who God was. Rather, I began to separate what happened on earth from who God was.



I emerged from this a different person.

Before this season, my beliefs, values, and practices had been primarily determined by the people around me, the events I was going through at the time, or the environment I found myself in. After this season, I began to see myself as independent from the forces around me, able to make good choices regardless of the environment or people in my path.

This season secured in me something like an “internal compass” that helped point me North even in the fiercest of storms. This season simplified my theology and made it instantly accessible. My former theological map had so many If…Then… statements that navigating it was a feat reserved for only the most trained of sea captains, so in morally challenging situations – I was handicapped in my ability to deal with how to respond. 

So what are my non-negotiables?

God is good.

God loves me.

Pretty simple, but highly effective. Everything in my life is filtered through those two non-negotiables. Happiness, pain, joy, sorrow, confusing circumstances… everything is run through the filter of those two items. So for example, as I am examining why when I prayed for a home that could be an investment and bought believing that God’s hand was in it, and here I am a year later with a house that is worth less than 1/2 of what it was one year ago, I remember to filter that circumstance through the fact that God is good and God loves me.

As a result, my perspective on the situation changes.

Please note that I am saying that the situation itself does not change – my perspective changes. It changes because no longer am I seeing God as someone out to get me. It changes because I am no longer viewing the circumstances as being designed to punish me.

Does that mean that everything will work out the way I want it to? No. Does that mean that times in the past where I have cried out to God in immense pain over abuse, discouragement, and blatent injustice – that I have received a happy ending? No. We live in a world that is broken.

We live in a world where separation from God is the norm, not the exception. We live in a world of people who do bad things and where bad things happen to good people. I have experienced devastating heartache, abuse, injustice… things that should have shattered any faith that I have in people, or in God. This is not designed to minimize pain and suffering – we all experience these things.

For me, though, knowing that God is good and God loves me changes everything. It changes how I view the situation. It changes how I view others. It changes how I view God. It changes how I view myself. It provides options and choices that might not have been there without this internal compass.




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