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Learning To Say No

Girl sitting in a forest staring out at a mountain
September 17, 2018

I don’t like the word no. It feels negative, selfish, and insensitive. Saying no is not an option.

But does that mean that saying yes is always the right decision?

I’m a rule-follower, so being a yes woman is in my nature. I’m called to be helpful, so I say yes. I’m called to give my time, so I say yes. I’m called to tackle responsibilities, so I say yes.

About a year ago, I hit a giant wall with a big red YES spray painted on it. I was saying yes in every area of my life – personal and professional. My calendar was filled to the brim! 

I was feeling burned out and completely unfulfilled.

I was on auto-pilot.

The joy-filled life that God gives was replaced with stress and frustration. I was spreading myself so thin that the blessings felt like burdens. The worst part was that I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough.

In her book The Best Yes, Lysa TerKeurst says, “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

Society encourages “over-commitment syndrome”. There are 24 hours in a day and those hours get divvied out like free samples at the supermarket.

You need another volunteer every Saturday? YES, I can do that! 

There’s another project at work? YES, I can do that!

I’m spread thin, overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, running around like a madwoman at my breaking point? YES, of course I will join your book club!

I end up saying yes to things that I know – deep down – I shouldn’t commit to. I pile on more and more responsibilities, but I don’t leave any room to breathe.

Last year, I started evaluating the decisions I was making and their impact. I was depleted and empty by what I was doing. I was filled with obligation rather than joy.

I prioritized tasks over people, responsibilities over relationships. I missed important moments. I tuned out when it mattered the most.

I realized that I didn’t need to go 100mph all the time and that I needed to understand my own limitations. I decided to show myself grace by allowing wiggle room.

Learning to make wiser decisions with my time has helped me to hear God more. Now, I focus on quality over quantity. This helps me to be ready to say YES to God.

Saying no isn’t so bad after all. Unless I’m saying no to more ice cream, because who can say no to more ice cream?

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