I’ve said, “No” a lot this summer, not always, but more often than usual for me.
Maybe it’s this rambunctious explorer of a baby boy who is helping me learn this. “No, no,” I say as he reaches for the oven, the lightsocket, the cord, the speck on the carpet. Some days it feels like I’ve said it fifty-billion times by the time my husband comes home and then he joins in the chorus.
All this practice is helping me say “no” in other ways.
“No” to swimming lessons. “No” to three of the week-long day-camps my kids attended and enjoyed last year. “No” to summer dance classes. “No” to governor’s school. “No” to a host of other exciting, wonderful, and fulfilling lessons, camps, clubs, or groups.
I still mumble it when I say it, scared to offend or disappoint. It’s as if this word is unfamiliar, a foreign-sounding syllable that I’ve handwritten on a flashcard so I can practice making it part of my working vocabulary.
And it does take practice.
There. I said it.
It takes wisdom, too. Sometimes God wants me to say, ‘Yes.’ It’s yes to His plans for me, yes to obedience and loving others.
Sometimes, though, His best for me and my family is ‘no’ because we can’t actually do everything. We can’t even do every good thing.
God only equips us to do what He’s called us to do. Not more or less than that.
The competitive girl in me grits those teeth hard. I listen to the moms around me who did all of this and more. I feel like the only one.
I read the email in my inbox the night after I say “no,” the email that tells me my daughter really should do this….. because she really needs two classes, not just one.
I waver and question and doubt my decision. Maybe I should change my mind?
I worry and fret a bit. What if my girls fall behind? What if they forget over this summer hiatus? What if all their friends make all this progress and what if I’m robbing them of the lessons they need to reach their potential?
But I think of my daughter, this over-achieving, go-getter, organized, competitive, ambitious girl. She had huddled next to me in the middle of last year’s breathless rush and whispered to me right then, “Mom, I want to take the summer off.”
So, we made tough choices. Maybe we didn’t always get it right. Maybe we did. We narrowed things down. We inserted weeks off in between weeks of activity. We’ve left room to enjoy the last days before school starts.
We said, “no” so we could say “yes” to rest, family, breathing room, friends, flexibility, time together, free time, play time, and creative time.
This weekend, I finished up my school supply shopping. Fall nips at my heels even now; I feel it in the restless stirring of my soul and in the way I desperately cling to these final joys of summer because I know they will not last.
Once that school year begins, we’ll still need to say, ‘no’ at times. Yet, school is school; homework and projects aren’t my choice. Church activities are church activities. The job is the job. The schedule is the schedule, and with four young kids and activities of our own, my husband and I simply will be busy.
All this year, I’m pursuing the presence of Christ and this month that means I’m Learning to Say “No” so that I can carry some of that discipline and that wisdom into the school year. It’s balance that I’ll need, knowing what is “yes” and what is “no” when fall begins.
Because what my soul needs is Jesus. What my family needs is Jesus. Not competition or races or achievements or getting ahead.
We. Need. Him.
The Psalmist wrote:
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:2 NIV).
I could throw back glass after glass of activity, and of ‘going’ and ‘doing’ to try to quench this desperate thirst, but it’d be like chugging sea water. I’d still thirst for Him, for that Living Water that flows only in His presence.
Sometimes others won’t understand. Some will think I’m too busy. Others will think I’m not busy enough.
Yet, it’s God’s face I’m seeking and it’s His opinion of me that matters. It’s His voice I need to obey; His wisdom I need to seek; His footsteps I need to follow.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV).
To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below! Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Learn to Say, ‘No?’
- Finding Room to Breathe: A 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ
- January: Be Still and Know
- February: Pray Simply
- March: Unplug
- April: Enjoy Beauty
- May: Create Beauty
- June: Invest in Friendship
- July: Retreat and Refresh
- August: Learn to Say, “No”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King