“Just say no!” My voice was firm, as I gave this advice to my busy daughter. Although it was easy for me to say, a twinge of guilt ran through me. The truth is, I’m the one who taught her to overcommit, to be ever involved, to never say no, to stay busy, frazzled, stretched tight like a rubber band in the slingshot, ready to catapult a stone across space.
Yes, I confess that my actions over the years taught her to care for everyone else, even when she had nothing left to give.
A memory from too many years past crossed my mind, and I found myself sharing it with her. One day I found myself stretched too thin. I was leading children’s choir, heading up a call list, (yes, back in the day before instant messaging and email), raising 4 small children, being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Life was busy. Then came the dreaded phone call. It seemed another call list leader had the job of calling to ask if people could donate blood. The truck would be at our church on such and such a day. Every month I said no, but this call caught me off guard. That had always been the one thing I could decline. I don’t know what came over me! Was it the guilt of speaking another no? Was I just weak and tired? Was I crazy?!? The word YES rolled off my tongue! I hate needles. I don’t like the sight of blood. What did I just say?
As I drove into the parking lot on donation day, in a state of exhaustion, I cried out to the Lord, “Now they even want my blood!”
I’m sure that made him smile, maybe even laugh. But years later, I know it would have made him a bit sad. I wish I could say that I changed that day. It would take me years to learn the lesson about striving. God never asked me to say yes to everything. He only asks me to say yes to him. My emphatic “Just say no!” to my daughter was the result of learning from a life lived to please others.
Today, I’ve learned the joy that comes in serving our Lord alone. I’ve learned the peace that comes in saying no and trusting God to provide what is needed. I’ve learned that seeking his will for me is as easy as asking him. I’ve learned to say, “Let me pray about it,” before saying yes.
Do you struggle with this? Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself the next time you are deciding whether to commit to a task. Do I have time? Do I have energy? Is there someone else God might have in mind for this job? Is my saying yes going to prevent someone else from stepping in? Does it fit with the work God is already doing in me? Does it fit with my passion?
Sometimes God does call us to do the practical things, like giving blood, and helping where there is a great need for a short time. But he will help you to discern that, when you are walking in a state of constant conversation with him.
A verse from Psalms comes to my mind as I write this; “He leads me beside the still waters and restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3). That is the treasure. But if we’re too busy to stop and seek him, we can’t enjoy the still waters and soul refreshment.
Lord, you never meant for your daughters to run to and fro, staying so busy that we neglect our time with you. Being busy pulls us away from you. Please help us to stop for a moment and listen for your voice. Lead us, we pray, so we can enjoy those still waters and let our souls be deeply refreshed. Thank you for your truth today. May we walk in the hope and joy that you have for each one of us. Amen.