To everything there is a season . . . a time to say "yes" and a time to say "no."
Okay, I'm taking some liberties with Ecclesiastes here.
But learning when to say yes and when to say no has not always been easy for me. I'm still learning.
|Valentine roses from Mr. Beautiful. Even though he's been sick, he still stopped to get me some.|
I used to say yes automatically to requests for my time or talent, wanting to be the "nice" girl, the "good" girl. I didn't think about such things as boundaries, or even whether I had the right to have boundaries. The "sure, I can do that" just came out of my mouth without any thought. So I would find myself doing things I didn't want to do, didn't need to do, or wasn't equipped to do, and, of course, ending up with a lot of stuffed-down resentment.
I needed to remember that "not every need is a call."
And then there have been other times, when out of selfishness or laziness or fear, that I've said no to things that looked hard or inconvenient but that would have been real blessings to me or to someone else had I just said yes.
Just this week I had to say no to my book club. We were meeting at my house, and my husband wasn't feeling well. I knew it would be inconvenient for everyone to try and reschedule, and the "nice" girl in me didn't want to put others out. But I had to stop and think of my husband. Sure, he could have gone upstairs as he usually does when they come over, but how much nicer for him to be able to have a meal and relax in front of the fire with a hot drink? My being "nice" to others wouldn't have helped him. Besides that, I felt I was coming down with something, and there were lots of germs in the house!
Then this morning I had to cancel a special one-on-one crochet tutoring class because now I'm sick. I didn't want to cancel last minute because the instructor scheduled the session just for me. I thought it wouldn't be "nice" to cancel. Of course, duh, it wouldn't be "nice" to spread germs and get her sick either. So I rescheduled, with apologies.
Because I wasn't able to collect books that needed to be returned to the library from my friends Monday night at book club I was also going to drive around to their homes and collect them today. What? I'm sick and it's cold and snowy out. I had to tell myself no. A $6 dollar fine isn't going to break me. I can say no, and stay warm inside.
These are just small examples of relatively easy choices to say no. There are much bigger choices that confront us. Do we take that volunteer position? Do we agree to serve on that committee? Do we continue a friendship with a toxic person just because we can't say no? Do we allow stronger personalities to steamroll us, convincing us to do things we don't agree with?
I've gotten a lot better at boundaries. Now, almost every time someone asks me for something, I allow myself some time to consider it. I've trained myself to say "I'll get back to you." And I do. I just know my propensity to say yes and then regret it, so I give myself a little time.
I've learned to be careful in my friendships and to go slow (that's a topic for a whole other post). It's a lot easier to avoid entanglements than to get out of them.
And saying yes?
How many times do I know I really need to do something and I shrink from it?
Just recently a request came in for some help that was going to involve a two-day commitment on my part. Doing something I really didn't want to do. And yet, I knew it was the right thing. Praying that the Lord would give me a cheerful heart about it, I said yes.
And wouldn't you know? I was so glad I did. I was blessed, and hopefully I blessed others.
The discernment part is the hardest. When is it right to say yes? When is it right to say no?
Because every situation and every person is different, I think we never have the answer to this question. Each and every time a request or opportunity or job comes our way we will be faced with this question.
Sometimes it's easy. There is a time for a spontaneous yes or no!
But if we haven't always responded to requests or situations with wisdom, and know our propensity to get it wrong at times, we need to carefully pray and listen, and not assume that our automatic reactions (yes or no) are right.
How about you? Easy or hard?
|What?! Did I just say yes to making an afghan?! I may wish before this is over that I took my own advice.|