I loathe disappointing people.
One of the ways I have conditioned myself over the years to avoid that disappointment, is to say yes almost always. Just about anything that gets asked of me, even if I don’t like it or want to do it or know it’s not for me, I will say yes.
Earlier this year, I read Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes. To say that it has been transformational to me is a gross understatement. This book has been truly life altering to me. Reading it has forced me to take a serious look into my motives for people pleasing, my motives for what I get out of saying yes to other people (recognition, popularity, pride), and it has made me realize that life is too short to feel obligations to other people’s requests and demands.
It’s been interesting trying to pinpoint the root of that “always on the hook” mentality. I know some of it is my natural first-born tendencies, some of it is a sense of Christian duty, or pastor’s wife duty or the good-girl that lives deep inside of me.
The phrase that keeps resounding in my heart is saying yes to something always means saying no to something else. #truedat Lysa!
When I fill up my time with all of the busyness of what I’ve committed myself and my time to doing, I am essentially eliminating the time for doing the things I know I am called to do in this season of my life. I don’t know about you, but this is often the tension I live in.
Lately I’ve been very thoughtfully peeling back the layers of decades of feeling compelled and duty-bound and finding instead this new feeling of freedom in Christ and accountability to myself more than others. In the past six months, I have laid aside a handful of self-imposed responsibilities and roles that were all good yeses, but not best yeses.
All of the thinking and writing I do about goals and dreams is one way I more clearly articulate in my heart the business I am to be about.
It has been difficult recently to have to say no and undo a yes.
I said no to something recently that by doing so, allows me to stay concentrated on the calling I have accepted to homeschool my children. Delivering that news was met with some guilt, but the Lord has been faithful to remind me that my no in that one area is allowing a magnificent yes in another, more vital area in this season.
Likewise, undoing a yes was excruciating because I hate disappointing people and more so, I despise feeling like I am a quitter or backing out on a commitment I have made. However, after weeks of no peace and even some sleeplessness, I took the plunge. I was honest about my situation and once I delivered the message, I felt instant relief. Even better, my news was met with kindness and grace (which I never should have doubted). Undoing that yes, is allowing me to focus on a personal passion and pursuit instead of spreading myself too thinly elsewhere.
Every few months, I evaluate my goals and top few priorities. This practice is helping me to use my time, resources and energy in the best ways possible. Those commodities are finite, meaning, they have an end. We must guard them and handle them with care.
This year of my life, being 38, will forever mark a crossroads as the time when I learned to say no, without guilt. It will mark a time in my life going forward that I remain selective about my yeses.
If you haven’t read The Best Yes, I highly recommend it. Greg McKeown has some wonderful insights on this idea too.
Do you have ingrained habits of saying yes just to please others? Have you learned the art of saying no? I’d love to hear from you.