Learning how to say no in order to say YES to God’s best for our lives is not an easy feat or a popular topic to discuss!
But, with the new year off and running and activities in full swing, I am beginning to see the calendar fill up with appointments, meetings, practices, and activities. Before we know it, summer will be upon us.
I don’t know how big your family is, but I have a relatively small family of (4) and our calendar is beginning to feel a bit “much.”
Now don’t get me wrong, there are so many GREAT things on our schedule. Many of the commitments are life giving activities and things that bring us crazy joy and meaning!
You probably know what is coming next though, right???
BUT (there is that pesky word!)
I think we can have too much of a good thing sometimes.
There, I said it!
I know that is probably not a very popular feeling! But, if I’m honest, I feel like it’s so true.
So, why has this been on my mind? I thought you would never ask!
Why Do We Constantly Say ‘YES’ (even if we want to or need to say ‘NO’?)
So often we wear our busyness like a badge of honor.
We run ourselves ragged trying to get here, there and everywhere and oftentimes, we never give it a second thought.
My fear is that saying “yes” is becoming our default mode.
I think our ‘yeses’ are flying out of our mouths so quickly, we have no time to consider what the implications of our agreement will be…
Until, it’s too late!
Whether we like to admit it or not, our motivations are often rooted in:
1. Our FOMO (fear of missing out!): Come on y’all…be honest! No one wants to miss out on something or be left out. Lord knows, I don’t!
Me and my Superwoman cape think we can do ALL.THE.THINGS sometimes!
Anyone else with me?
2. Obligation: Instead of saying “yes” because we ‘get to’ to do something, it is more of a ‘have to’ or ‘ I should.’
Am I right?
How often are we giving our time, talents and treasures more out of obligation rather than out of genuine enthusiasm, pure joy or with a servant heart?
3. Fear of disappointing someone: Come on, where are all my people pleasers at?
I am personally in recovery from this and it is easier said than done. Can I get an AMEN?!
I don’t want people to think I’m mean. I don’t want to burn bridges or never be asked again.
Lysa Terkeurst brilliantly sums this up by saying “We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.”
I feel like it is so hard to say that tiny, 2 letter word. Just thinking about it almost makes me cringe a little!
Let’s practice it together…N-O! No…no…no!
It’s so much easier to write it than it is to have to say “NO” to your face.
Enter in the awesomeness of email and text messages!
Come on…I can’t be the ONLY one who was thinking that!
I’m often more worried about the other person and their feelings than about my own life and the potential effects my saying “yes” will have moving forward!
4. Desire to ‘keep up’ with the Joneses: I don’t think this one is often as intentional or as obvious, but I think it’s incredibly pervasive and constantly reinforced by our involvement with social media.
We see ‘Susie’ spearheading all the PTA activities, we see ‘Jane’ has her kids in 13 activities a piece and then ‘Pearl’ is across the street leading women’s small group, baking cookies for the neighborhood and running carpool! And did you hear, she is now considering coaching cheerleading!
Now, that is a SUPERMOM.
Or, is she? What are you NOT seeing underneath that well put together fascade?
How often do we find ourselves saying or at least thinking these things? If we are really honest, I think it is more than we would like to admit!
Let me tell you how I know…because I just went through something similar in my own life!
What Happened When I Said ‘YES’ Without Thinking First
In a nutshell, I was asked to join an awesome group of female business owners who were forming an ongoing mastermind group that would support, encourage and help troubleshoot as we worked towards our individual goals.
Sounds like a no brainer, right? Who wouldn’t want to lock arms with other highly motivated business women who are truly ROCKSTARS?!
SIGN ME UP!
Well, I was so quick to say ‘YES’ that I didn’t even consider how the weekly commitment would fit in to my already busy week! I gave no thought to the day of the week, the time commitment or how my involvement would affect the other people or things in my life. Or, how it would eventually affect me!
I find myself getting overwhelmed more easily. My daily stress level is higher than I would like it to be and there are so many things that I want to do or have to do that aren’t getting done now.
How in the world am I going to add another thing to an already full plate?
Don’t get me wrong, we live in a world where we are blessed to have so many good, even GREAT things, right at our fingertips!
But, God did not design us to be bobblehead, automatic “YES” people who agree to every activity or opportunity that crosses our path.
This is where BOUNDARIES come in!
For a long time, I’m not really sure I knew what that word really meant or how it applied to my life, my relationships and my time investments.
In my mind, a boundary was like a fence between your yard and the neighbors…something visible, a physical barrier or separation.
How does that apply to my life, schedule, and time commitments?
Here’s the deal…listen up!
How Can Saying ‘YES’ Too Often Hijack God’s Best for Our Lives?
When we throw around ‘yeses’ far too often and far too quickly, we can find ourselves:
- Lacking Joy
- Trapped doing all the wrong things
- With no margin in life
- Stressed Out/ Maxed Out
- Burnt out
I LOVE what Lysa Terkeurst says in her book the The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”
If we say YES to ALL THE THINGS, we might miss out on the BEST THINGS that the Lord has prepared for us in advance!
Just because an opportunity presents itself, does not mean we have to take it. It might even be a once in a life time, out of this world opportunity.
But, is it the best thing for us, at that time? Or, in that season?
Trust me, I am NOT preaching to you because I am right there in the thick of it with you!
I struggle with that simple, yet complex word too.
The word “NO,” sometimes makes my heart race and my palms sweat (unless of course I’m talking to my kids…ha!) In that case, I might say ‘NO’ more than I should.
So…back to my awesome opportunity!
As I was preparing for the first virtual meet up, I had my calendar out and I started writing the meeting down for every Monday night at 8 p.m. and as I did that, I realized that I already had commitments on Tuesday, Wednesday and some Thursday nights!
Whooops! (Picture me hitting myself in the face…)
Now, did I have the time to participate?
I didn’t have anything consistent on Monday nights at 8 pm. But, after seeing the other obligations alongside what already existed on that calendar AND slowing down enough to take into consideration how all of these commitments over time were going to make me feel…I quickly realized, I had made a BIG mistake.
By taking on another weeknight commitment, I was taking away from quality time with my family and more than anything, setting myself up for the perfect storm of BURNOUT!
I admit, FOMO took over and I tried to rationalize this new opportunity in my head for several hours.
But, no matter how I sliced it, participating was going to stretch me way too thin! Even though it was an activity for my betterment, it was not going to fit in a healthy way.
I think if we slow ourselves down enough to actually think through our decisions at hand, and approach them from different points of view, we might be surprised at what we come up with.
Honestly, if I had moved forward with this commitment, I probably would’ve gotten a lot out my participation.
However, what was I going to have to give up to join the party?!
Exercise? Time with my husband? Going to bed at a decent hour? Putting my kids to bed? My sanity?
It is difficult to say no, but sometimes it is necessary and it is your NEXT BEST THING!
How to Say No Even When We Are Tempted to Say ‘Yes’
We are all given the same 24 hours in a day. Time is precious. We are not making more of it! We must ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment concerning our commitments and time investments.
Ephesians 5:16 tells us “Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get.”(MSG)
By being good stewards of our time, we are leaving sacred margin within our lives to allow God to move as He sees fit.
God is always working in the background, even when we cannot see how. God already sees the bigger picture and even though you think the decision at hand is great, wonderful and a total no brainer..it may NOT be God’s best for you in this season of life!
Next time you have a decision to make regarding your time, do these things!
What To Do Before You Say ‘Yes’
- Pause before giving an answer. No one said you have to respond in that moment. Don’t let the urgency of others force you into making a rushed decision. Take a breath (or ten), step back and pause before responding.
- Ponder It. Look at the decision from all angles. What will happen if you say ‘yes?’ What might happen if you say ‘no?’ How will this ‘yes’ fit into your schedule? How will this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ make you feel? Do you have margin for another ‘yes’ in your schedule?
- Pray about it. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (NIV) Seek God’s wisdom and the discernment of the Holy Spirit. Follow their promptings.
- Make PEACE with it. God did not create us to say YES to everything that comes our way. It is OK, healthy and completely acceptable to say NO!
- Pass it On. I love this idea. Sometimes by saying ‘no’ to something, we are opening up the door for someone else to say ‘yes!’ Even though it may not be God’s best for your life, maybe it is for someone else!
Learning How to Say No Can Save Your Sanity
Saying ‘no’ doesn’t come easy to most of us. Matter of fact, we can probably think of a million things we would rather do than to say ‘no’ to someone else! However, learning how to say no can be a blessing to yourself and to others.
With practice, we can learn how to say no with confidence but with respect, gentleness and love.