CONFESSION….I can’t do it all – I’m not super woman, super wife or super mom. I am, however, really good at making you think I am. I know how to look the part, talk the talk, make the list, check the boxes, and fake the smile. I know how over-commit and run myself down while accepting the “how do you do it?” compliment with gracious humility. I know how to over extend myself and bankrupt my soul. I’m a “Yes Man” or, at least, I use to be.
I said yes to everything. Can you work overtime?…. Sure. Can you volunteer?…. Sure. Can you bring a dish?…. Sure. Can you?, Can you?, Can you?…. Sure, Sure, Sure. I’m somewhat of a people pleaser and I really want you to like me, so “yes” was my middle name. Well, that only makes you really tired, really overwhelmed, and really disappointed. So a few years ago, I made some changes and got off the “Yes Man” train and learned to say, “NO”.
Ouch, “NO” still hurts a little and sometimes I feel better if I say the southern version, “No, ThankYou”. I say “No” to anything and everything that compromises the “me” I’m supposed to be. Don’t get this confused with the “me” that I want to be. The “me” I want to be really wants you to like her, she really cares about what you think, and what you might say when she’s not around. But, the “me” I’m supposed to be puts family, peace, true-friendships, and love first. You see, our time is just like our bank accounts – we only have so much time and if we spend it in all the wrong ways we end up bankrupt. In her book, The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst says, “how we spend our souls matters.” I couldn’t agree more. Let me explain…..
- I say “No” to things that overextend my time. For this, you must learn your limitations. If you don’t know your limitations just take a little look-see over your past week. What made you super stressed? Super tired? Super frustrated? Did you take on too much? Here’s a great example: last year my son’s school had a fall party and his teacher begged parents to work events. I should have said no but I caved. This was a horrible time for me to help because it was a Friday night and I was on call the entire weekend. I ended up working the water booth with a one-year old on my hip. At then end of the evening I was covered in water, hungry, and frustrated. So frustrated that I didn’t even notice that my son took off his shoes -Really? He left his shoes at school and they disappeared forever. I was tired the whole weekend and had to buy a new pair of shoes. You see, every “yes” comes with a price or as Lysa Terkeurst says, “a list of expectations” – time, preparation, and financial expectations. Before you say yes, consider the cost.
- I say “No” to things that compromise my family. I get invited to events, usually job related, several times a month – my default answer is “no”. The Best Yes taught me that I’m the only one that can be a mother to my children and a wife to my husband. However, I’m not the only one that can attend a work dinner. This doesn’t mean that I say no to everything . This past week, I met a close friend for lunch on Saturday and then, later in the week, I met a group of women for dinner. In both settings, we keep it real, we speak truth, we build each other up, we laugh till we cry. These relationships make me a better person, a better friend, a better mother, a better wife.
- I say “No” to things that compromise my peace. I’ve learned that sometimes I say yes to make “ME” feel better. Its selfish and, in the end, it always robs me of peace. When faced with a decision, I must ask myself – what’s the motivation? I ran into this just two weeks ago. On my daughters second birthday, I wanted to take a special snack to her daycare. That week was super busy, but I had planned for all of the commitments and knew my limitations. I still, however, found myself in Publix the night before her birthday with a basket full of “stuff” to take to her school – most of which will end up in the trash. As I was walking to the check-out counter, I looked in the basket and said, “what am I doing?”. I don’t have time to make gift bags and I already yelled at my husband because he’s “not helping me”. It was robbing my peace – so I put everything back and just took store bought cookies like I planned and she didn’t know the difference. The “me” I want to be, hung my head in shame because no one praised me for my effort, but the “me” I’m supposed to be lived in peace and my entire family was happier. Choose the latter.
- I say “No” to things that compromise love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth… always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres”. Without love I am a mere “clanging cymbal”. This next example is a hard one. I recently stopped volunteering at church because of this very thing. When I started volunteering, I was all in for all the right reasons, but over the past year, life became more demanding and my ability to keep up started to fade. I knew long before I stopped volunteering that I should cut back, but this was God’s work. How can you quit that??? Then one Sunday morning I notice something – where was the love? If you’ve ever had to get kids ready for church on Sunday morning, you will agree that Lionel Richie was wrong – there is no easy Sunday morning – but when you wake up tired, over-committed, and overwhelmed its even worse. As we were piling in the car, I was anything but patient, kind, and easily angered. I was rude, self-seeking and keeping every record of wrong since I woke up – just a clanging cymbal. I realized we had to make a change and I stepped out of volunteering. We still go to church on Sunday, but for a season we will just attend.
I must admit that time is one of my greatest struggles. The “me” I want to be and the “me” I’m supposed to be are in constant conflict. The examples above have taught me that, to some extent, we must plan our time. You can’t plan every minute, nor do I think you should, but we must learn to say “yes” to the right things in order to live the life we are destined for. If you struggle with any of the things above, I encourage you to read, The Best Yes. Remember, “how we spend our souls matters”.