Oftentimes, it’s difficult to utter that tiny little word, “no”.
I ponder this shortly after I’ve agreed to yet another task I should not be tackling. But it’s too late. I’ve committed myself, stretching myself too thin once again. In an effort to please everyone, I end up exhausted, weary, and longing to hide from all who pursue me.
I somehow pull myself together. I trudge forward, determined to finish what I’ve started. When it’s done, I vow to never step into that trap again.
I repeat this cycle until a startling realization hits me: in my quest to please so many, I’ve failed to give my best to anyone. The opportunities I shouldn’t follow consume me, leaving me too tired or busy for those I should be pursuing.
This is no way to live. Yet, this is exactly where so many of us reside, day after day. Coming up for air only to have the weight of our to-do lists push us under once again. Spending a good part of our lives in this place of trying hard to please others, of rarely saying no, of feeling guilty when we do.
But slowly, somewhat reluctantly, I am learning it’s okay to say no – and it’s possible to do so in a truthful, yet kind and loving manner.
The kicker is this … before we can appropriately answer “yes” or “no”, we must have an inkling as to what it is we should be doing.
So how do we distinguish between what God is calling us to do, and those other “good” things pulling for our time and attention?
How do we guard against doing things simply out of habit or obligation rather than the desire God has placed within our hearts?
Although I have yet to figure it all out, nothing has helped me more than time spent with God. Reading his word. Studying it. Meditating upon it. Taking my options to Him in prayer. Listening intently for His response.
After all, it makes sense that our Creator, who expects His goodness to illuminate through us, would certainly direct us to the good He intends us to do.
And therein lies peace.
Rather than focusing on when to say “no”, let’s begin praying for -and searching out- our “yes” opportunities. And as they are revealed, let’s grab hold, moving forward with the peace and joy that comes from knowing we’re doing exactly what we should be doing.
That, my sisters, is freedom.