Y'all, I can't even tell you how much the book "The Best Yes" is helping me. I think I could spend a whole week talking about it. I just might do that, too.
You see, I've always had a hard time saying no. I haven't really had a hard time saying no to things we typically think of as bad and those things that are in front of us in our teenage years, but I've had a hard time saying no to good things because I think I'm superwoman and can do everything. But I can't. Well, maybe I can, but if I tried, everything would fall apart because there's just no way one tiny person can be everything to everyone all the time. Inevitably, something/someone gets left behind.
From a young age, I've been really involved in many things. I get this from my mom who also can't say no to good things as well as my grandparents who have always been "yes" people (though they've always done their "yes" things with way more grace than I could ever dream). I've always been the first to volunteer to do whatever needs doing, I've always been the one that does more than is required, and I've always been the last person to say no.
But then, life happened. I was blessed with real responsibilities outside of my career in the form of my husband and two sons. No longer did I have the time every night to go to the gym, dinner and movies with friends, and time to volunteer that affected no one but me. I got a family and that has been the biggest blessing in my life (yes, I've had a family forever, but you know what I mean - I have my people that I look out for now).
With those new and awesome responsibilities came the need to say no. It wasn't a want, I can assure you, because I want to take on so much because I love being involved and helping others, but with two young kids, I had to start figuring out how to use that two-letter word.
I think the first thing I said no to was being the director of VBS at my home church. That was a really hard no to say. When I was asked to take on that job (which I adored) for the sixth or seventh year in a row, I reluctantly said no. At that point, Kevin and I weren't married, but we knew we would be soon and I had started going to church with him, so I felt like I wouldn't be able to give it my all and I don't like committing to something that I can't do to the best of my ability.
Shortly after that, I decided to resign from the Junior League. I had been in the League for three or four years and during that time, was over several committees including our largest fundraiser, Merry Marketplace. That took up a lot of time! While I loved going to the Boys and Girls Club to volunteer on Friday afternoons, my job became more demanding which meant I wasn't able to go as often as I liked. Our meetings were always on Thursdays which is the night we don't have the boys, so I felt like it was important to spend that time with my husband. My career allows me to be pretty involved in the community, so I didn't feel too bad bowing out.
I've also said no to some other good things recently. I've been asked to ring handbells at church (I would adore doing it), but with our stage in life and situation with the kids, it would pull me away at a time I don't want to miss. I was also asked to be the GA director which would be a lot of fun and fits in with a strong passion of mine - shaping young girls - but again, it would require more time than I have available right now in this stage of my life.
None of the things above are bad things, they're all great things, but they're all things I couldn't say yes to.
At this stage in my life, I'm having to learn how to say no to good things more than yes to those things. And it's hard, but it's necessary.
The thing I've struggled with most recently is saying no to choir for a brief season. I love singing in the choir at our church. Choir practice is one of my favorite times of the week. It's a time where I feel refreshed, energized, and hear God speak, but lately, I've had to miss. I guess had is too strong of a word, but I've felt like I need to miss.
You see, my big boy needs me. Second grade has been a little challenging for us. He's as smart as a whip, but we've recently learned he is primarily an auditory learner (which is why he can tell us practically everything about nearly anything he hears), but in big second grade, everything is read independently. Thankfully, we have been blessed with an amazing teacher who is right on top of things. And right now, he needs me. That choir practice slot is also homework time and until we're confidently where we need to be, I'm saying yes to the child God has entrusted us with instead of yes to that time of refreshment for me. I don't resent it one bit because I know what a blessing it is to be in the position that I'm in and we can see all of his hard work paying off.
Choosing to say no to good things, particularly things we would enjoy, is hard, but sometimes, saying no to those things frees us up to say yes to the things God has called us to do. It's easy to be a yes woman especially when so many good opportunities present themselves to us, but it's important to differentiate between those things we say yes to because we know God is telling us to and the things we say yes to because we know we can do it and it sounds fun.