For a long time I didn’t know that word was even in my vocabulary. It was there all the time, but I rarely ever used it. One simple word seemed to elude me and it was the one word that I needed to use…desperately. But I didn’t.
I’ll confess. I definitely have Type A, perfectionistic and people pleaser qualities and while that does tend to serve me quite often, it also can leave me burnt out and wondering what I am doing. I love serving people, I always have. I think that is just part of how God made me. I remember growing up, I always wanted to help my parents with everything. As an inquisitive child, I always asked a lot of questions and wanted to know how to do things so that I could in turn, help others. Especially if it had to do with raising a family or fixing things around the house. I just loved being able to help and felt a sense of pride when it was appreciated. I remember being around 12 or 13 and my friend wanted to know why I was spending so much time with the “little kids”. My response was, “Because I am learning how to be a mother because one day I will have a family of my own.” Don’t ask me where that came from. It must have been God’s spirit in my young heart, but I knew even back then, I would serve-whether it was my own family or somewhere else.
Fast forward to today. My life is all about serving. I serve my husband, my children, my siblings, my homeschool group, and in the past, my mother and mother-in-law. There’s only one problem. Even God has made it abundantly clear that He thinks it’s a problem as well. I am not serving myself. Yes, it is a wonderful thing to be able to give to others, but when you put yourself last and give until you are exhausted and have nothing left for yourself, then something is wrong.
If you’re a mom, you know exactly what I am talking about. And even if you’re not, you probably understand it too!
Burnout. Stress. Exhaustion. Done. Wondering where ‘you’ fit into the whole equation. Wondering how you got to this point. Wondering who you are anymore.
If those words just resonated within you, God is trying to tell you something. He is trying to get your attention, moms!
I’m learning that it’s ok, and even awesome to say no sometimes. And you know what? I don’t feel the need to explain my reasons anymore. If God is leading me or my family, then the only one I truly need to answer to is God. I can hear you now… But if I say no, this won’t happen… If I say no, this person will be upset. If I say no, then I’m the bad guy. If I don’t give a good enough reason they will think… Believe me, I have said those and more. But you know what? Those things we think are usually not true. It’s ok and it will be ok. [Tweet “Life will not stop if you say no to a playdate.”] True friendships will not be lost if you choose to not go somewhere. Clothes will still eventually be washed if you say no to the demands of a laundry pile and yes to enjoying time with your children at a park.
No. No. No.
I promise you my dear friends, saying yes to yourself and saying no to others will be freeing. It doesn’t mean you still won’t take care of what needs to be taken care of, or who needs to be taken care of, but it means that your tank will be full. Instead of giving from a depleted resource, you will be giving from plenty. If someone really needs your help, you will be better equipped. Give all of your worries and to-do lists to God and let Him guide your way. Don’t just go to God about the big things, pray to Him about the little details.
Ask Him about whether the playdate this week should happen.
Ask Him if you should join another committee.
Ask Him if your children really need to be in all those extracurricular activities and whether your family time is suffering because of it. (this is a BIG ONE moms!)
Ask Him about everything.
Sometimes service to others has a season. Maybe volunteering with a specific group was only meant to last for one year. Maybe right now is the season for you to homeschool your children. Maybe it’s something else. The great thing about being in a relationship with God is that just like with any other relationship, the more you communicate, the easier it gets. I have found that my level of discernment is higher when I am on my knees asking God for his guidance. And alot of times, His words are simply, “Now is not the time. Say no.”
No. Two little letters are so powerful. You want to be intentional with what you say yes or no to. Resist the urge to say yes as soon as someone asks you a question. God showed me this week when I read through the book of Ephesians that I need to be wise with how I spend my time.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
What are you saying yes to, that you know you shouldn’t? What steps can you take to start serving and caring for yourself? If you have already started on this new road, how has it felt to say no? How has saying no enabled you to live a freer and fuller life? I’d love to hear how you’re doing!