I’m a giver and a people-pleaser, and if asked to attend a meeting, take on another task, or join a group, I’m quick to say yes.
Until recently, when I said no to a meeting on a Saturday at noon. My daughter was home from college, and we had barely seen each other that particular week. She was returning to her university in Oklahoma the Saturday of the meeting, and I had a personal life to catch up with: errands, laundry, packing for a mission trip, errands, cleaning my home, meeting with dog sitters, errands. Sitting for a second.
My friend who invited me understood. The meeting carried on. I considered for a few seconds how I could manage it all, and did what is hardest for me: I said no, and set my own personal boundary.
My health was too important – mental health, physical health – and I found myself sitting at home early evening having completed what I needed, instead of having also attended a two-hour meeting, and then playing catch up all day to complete my tasks by late evening. And exhausted. Stressed. Wondering why I’m so tired all the time.
We’re called to serve. It’s the part of my life – of God’s calling for us – I thrive on. Providing outreach. Giving back to a community. Sharing my testimony. But you can’t give if you’re depleted. And constantly worrying and wondering how you’ll get everything done.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
I lived on autopilot for years as a single mom – and with an active daughter. Academics, soccer – school and travel teams – while working full-time with two dogs. I know I’m one of millions.
But it wasn’t until my daughter left for college 18 months ago that I was able to sit. Reassess. Start doing for me.
I found more intentional time in His word. Took those deep breaths I advised to others for so long. “Don’t forget your ‘me’ time,” I’d say, while not providing my own body and mind with the nutrients it needed to match the pace I kept. “Yes – ha – I’ll take my time later!”
The pace hasn’t slowed over the past year and a half. But the focus has shifted.
Once I didn’t have the 24-hour schedule that raising my daughter entailed, I found boundaries. I found that while my schedule has stayed busy, my mind has learned to slow down.
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37)
I learned to say ‘no,’ so I could say ‘yes’ to where I needed to be. To where my heart called, my mind, my passions, my outreach. I learned to say no so I could grow where God wanted me. Where He placed me. The road on which He led me.
Then, I learned to say ‘yes,’ because it’s where my boundary was set. The ‘yes’ was where I wanted to be. It was a learned pattern. And sometimes difficult. But if I’m not following where Jesus leads me, then I waste gifts and time.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
I said no to a Saturday meeting. I caught up on what transpired at that meeting with the friend who invited me. Life moved forward. I breathed. I rested mentally and physically. And remembered whose path I am on. And, why.