Monday, March 12, 2012

Just Say NO

A spring rain is falling. You can almost watch the daffodil plants growing...stretching out their greenery skyward in preparation for some beautiful blooms oh so soon!
I saw crocuses yesterday. Tiny little buggers, peeping up their yellow faces towards the unusual spring warmth and sunshine.
And I also saw a hilarious quote on FB yesterday. Referring to daylight savings time. "Only the government can cut a foot off the bottom of a blanket, sew it to the top, and think they have a longer blanket." So true. The days technically aren't any longer. But somehow the hour switch up does make the days seem just a bit longer. I like the light evenings, though I was also liking the lighter mornings. Now I have to wait for them to recalibrate. This hour was killing me this morning. I know the clock said 5:00 as I was swimming away, but my body was still set at 4:00. It was the difference between early hour and ungodly hour.
I remember growing up. (It seems so long ago now=)) When I was in public school for the first four years of my schooling career, there was the "just say no" anti-drug campaign. I never dabbled in drugs, and I never forgot the mantra. But, how hard is it to "just say no"? To food. To that extra hour of sleep. To wiling away hours on the computer. To church activities. To other people.
The Queen of "just say no"
I am a pretty determined character. And I used to pride myself on my ability to say no. I wouldn't do what I didn't want to . Yet, this past year or two, that firm no has gotten rather ambiguous and fuzzy. I started thinking. I stopped letting my "yes be yes and my no be no". I would feel stressed, burdened, and manipulated when I said yes. And I would feel guilty and shirking and grumbly when I said no.  This is not a good state of affairs. God loves cheerful givers. Those who give what they have purposed in their hearts to give. Not grudgingly or under compulsion. This giving may be primarily money, but it also includes time and resources. On top of that, God has works He has prepared for me to do. Things that accomplish His purposes for me-my conformity to Jesus Christ's image. Things that bring glory to God. Within the confines of these works are raising my children, loving and supporting and submitting to my husband, and keeping my home, and leading a Bible club, and a Bible study group. I have found my time at a premium this year. Days and weeks click by on a pretty tight schedule. There is some flexibility, but the order keeps things moving and getting done, you know? I have to say, I have been conscientiously trying to fit in people this year...not just activities. If I have a ministry, but I'm not ministering to people, what good is it? There is no merit in busyness for the sake of being busy. I have been walking the tight rope of trying to do everything well. School and parenting, being a wife, studying, running, hospitality. Aiming for excellence, not perfection.
Here is the rub. We have scheduled activities Monday through Wednesday evenings. Every week. At least one member of the family, if not several members, attend a Bible study/church each of these evenings. Every week. The open nights are Thursday, Friday or Saturday. The kids had a Bible club Friday evenings. We try to fit in hospitality one of those evenings. Also, quite often there is another good activity that we are invited to any one of those nights. Do you see the pressure? You are caught in the cooker of trying to do what you feel God wants you to do, with what everyone else wants you to do.  Everyone wants you at their activity. Most people also tell you that you need to say no to some things. (how do you do it all?) But, no one, I repeat-NO ONE, wants you to say no to them.
I know my situation is far from unique. I know everyone is busy.
What is a workable solution? What is sustainable? Dispensing grace. Give people a break. Realize that you don't know God's will for them. No guilt trips. I have to realize that not everyone can do what I am asking them to do. They have different hearts, talents, and "burdens". God has different works He has prepared for them. I also have to take responsibility, along with Mr. Hippie, for my "yes's and no's". Who knows better than we do what God has laid on our hearts? Who is responsible for the health of our marriage? For the upbringing of our children? For our physical health? We are. We need to filter activities through the lens of where God has placed us, the responsibilities He has given us, and the gifts He has given us. And we can't do everything. There is good. There is better. And there is best. I want to be filling my time with the best.
I used to pray very faithfully about what God wanted me to do. When I neglect that, my stress level escalates accordingly. If I tell you I will pray about something you are asking me to do, I mean it. I will pray about it. We are asked by good people to do good things all the time. But there is literally not enough hours in the day to do it all. Please, if I tell you "no", extend me some grace. Realize that I am not boycotting you or your activity. I am trying to stay both reliant on God and sane.=) And I will extend some of that same grace your way too. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31
Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.