Wednesday, April 23, 2008
No Means Yes
You know how there are certain lessons that you feel like you've had to learn over and over and over? Each time you learn it, you think "Ok, finally it has sunk in this time and I will never get myself into that situation again." I'm sure it's different for everyone, but the lesson I will probably need a lifetime to learn is this: One cannot, need not, and should not say YES to everything.
I think this is especially hard for me because for many years growing up I chose to say no to everything except swimming. No other sports, no student groups, no extracurriculars, barely even a non-swimming friend. I "retired" from the sport at age 20 and finally had the option of saying yes to other things. As you can imagine, I took it to the extreme. By my senior year of college I was in so many associations, student groups, volunteer corps, you name it, I literally didn't have 15 minutes of unscheduled time in my week. It was silly. Since then I have gone in cycles, sometimes beyond over-committed and other times strangely unscheduled. Becoming a mom added a new element, since now my yeses and nos have a profound impact, not only on my life, but on my children's lives.
The reason I am devoting a blog to this topic is that I recently found myself giving advice on the subject to another mom (who happens to be my mom). We were talking about how hard it is to say no to something, or even give something up, when you love it and find fulfillment in it. But the reality is that, much like a buffet diner, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Everything looks so good! Pizza! Soup! Salad! Muffins! Pasta! Frozen yogurt! Now I know if I put all that on my tray at Souplantation there's no way I will be able to eat it all. And when it comes to eating dinner, this is not a big problem - just eat what you can and leave the rest. But when it comes to living out the Lord's plan for our lives, we need to hear His still small voice saying no... or not right now... or not anymore. There are things that I am good at, that I love to do, that God has given me the gifts to do, that I am not doing right now. Who knows what blessings I would miss if I had said yes to those things, when God asked me to say no? I'm sure I'll have to learn this at least three dozen more times this side of heaven, but right now I am enjoying the yeses that have come from saying no.