Monday, February 27, 2012

The art of saying "no" and a resounding yes

Since the title of this post is the "art of saying no", it kind of sounds like I am an expert on this subject and I am handing out advice to others. That is not quite the story. Especially since having children, learning to say no is something that I am being faced with more than ever.

Even before becoming a mom, saying no is just not something I have ever been good at. I remember at one point, I had five jobs at the same time because I enjoyed so many different things. I was teaching fitness classes, giving private Spanish lessons and working at a gym and a retail store. This is one reason I don't like saying no because the choices are so many!

Another reason is because I don't like "letting people down". I'm, for the most part, a passive person. Unless there is a major decision to be made or there is something of great concern, my response is usually "whatever you think" or "why don't you decide". (Yes, I know this can be annoying to the more decisive person.) However, the bigger life decisions I'm okay with. I knew what I wanted to do with my life (or what I was called to do), what major to pursue, what university to attend and who to marry {wink} when the time came . I feel like it was somewhat easy to follow God's leading in those areas. It's the seemingly smaller decisions that I struggle with.

Now, having four very young children, I'm having to say no to things even if to myself, more than ever. I want to serve in our church more, I want to spend more time with friends, I want to travel, I want to continue to go overseas and serve the people, I want to workout more, read more and I want to spend time on my hobbies. I miss teaching international students. None of these things are bad or wrong. In fact, many of them are quite productive or are very good things to do. Where does it end?

Those are just the things that I want to do....not to mention the things others ask of me. Most likely, you are the same. People are asking, calling, needing, wanting, hurting, pulling and pleading. The problem lies in the fact that there are only so many hours in a day. I have only so much energy and so much time to give. In this season of my life, my children (and husband too) require a great deal of that time and energy. In fact, two of my children can hardly feed themselves and cannot go to the bathroom alone. The older two still need some assistance in both areas. Those basic tasks alone can definitely carve out some hours every day.

Is it easy to say no to all of these things? Absolutely not! Having traveled overseas to various countries over the past twenty years, I have seen many needs. I've been faced with decisions. It completely leaves me heartbroken to have to leave and not DO something about every single request. The fact is, I cannot physically be in an orphanage in Costa Rica, a childrens' ministry in Peru, a baby home in India or teach in Mexico at the same time. No one can. The needs big and small will always be there. In your home, in your community, in your country and abroad.

My point is that there is always something outside of the four walls of the home that can be done, that needs someone to do them and that are quite important. As moms, our primary calling (not to be confused with our only calling) is to be a mother to our children. To make disciples. To serve, teach, train, and encourage them. Pray with and for them. Guide and protect them. Enjoy them. Wow! What a responsibility. What a privilege.

As a woman in general or more specifically as a mom, it's up to you to prayerfully pursue those things that will have lasting value. To care for what has been or who has been set before you. For us moms, it's our children. Our greatest ministry.

Saying "no" is an art. You must be strategic as to when and where you say yes. You must first count the cost because sometimes the cost is too great.

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'this person began to build and wasn't able to finish.'" Luke 14:28-30

I know the seasons will change and there will be more room for "yes" to the other things, but for now I will continue to learn the art of saying "no".

Next week I will talk about the "resounding yes".

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