I’ve spent my life saying yes. Yes to love, yes to service, yes to giving. Firmly planted in my mind from an early age, I certainly thought it was the “Christian” thing to do. It’s what I believed. It’s what I was taught. It was reinforced by interactions with others. Yes was the answer.
All those years of saying yes created a frantic, unbalanced, personal life. Much yes of doing, of going and giving brought about stress in relationships, tension in my home life, pressure that paralyzed me. I became captive to the expectations of others and even more so to expectations of myself. The more I did, and found appreciation and acceptance by others – the more I moved into that direction.
Thinking this was God’s call for me at the time, I wonder if I was wading through the acceptance of others looking for God’s approval? Maybe that love I so desperately looked for, I hoped with each yes it would become clearer that God really did love me. With each blog post, each lesson given, each ministry opportunity faced and accomplished, I found more peace that I had a place. Perhaps it was filling a need for others, but it certainly wasn’t fulfilling the needs of those I loved the most. With each yes to others, it was a no to those I cared for the deepest.
I had it wrong.
Had I been richly blessed in the process? Most definitely. I have made deep friendships. I have fostered relationships for the growth of teens and women who want to know God more. My passion for them, and for God spilled out into service in a natural way. I appeared whole, yet inwardly my life was a mess.
There was a time of knowing what my world was and living in it brought some contentment to life on this side of eternity. It was full of church events, ministry and busy days. It was neat and orderly on the outside. I see now I had trusted in what I had done rather than who I am. I said yes, often. God had to teach me no. He had to reveal that all this yes wasn’t making me healthy, making me whole or making me His. How could I know in the deepest parts of me that I am enough if I spent my life a slave to the expectations of others?
Saying no is healthy.
Let me share with you a story about Jesus.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”
Jesus chose to get up to be alone. He chose to walk away from the people of the village. He chose to go and seek out a solitary place. Jesus chose to pray. So many choices He made that we rarely stop to ponder! Isn’t it difficult to do this sometimes? As an extroverted-introvert, I am finding that my love of people can overtake my introverted self. Not so with Jesus. He loved people. He served them. He even healed them at times. But here He is protecting his space and determining to be alone.
How often do you protect yours?
Do you find yourself frantic during the long days like I have? Have you found you go from one thing to another in a blink of an eye? Jesus knew the days were long but He also knew they were numbered. He knew His time was short and the value of being alone with His Father.
Before we leave Jesus in his solitary space, look again. When Simon and the disciples awoke, they didn’t see Jesus so they went looking for Him. When they found Him they said, “Everyone is looking for you!” Wow. Everyone? That’s a tall order. But look what Jesus did. He didn’t worry and run to them and say, “let’s go to them.” No. Instead Jesus said, “Let’s go somewhere else.”
People are needing you and you are saying let’s leave? Yes, that’s exactly what He did. Jesus knew His purpose. He told the disciples, “this is why I have come.” Although He had spent time in that village the time had come for Him to go and move on. Jesus valued His time understanding that loving people was God’s plan for Him. He was clear in His purpose.
Do you know in your inner being what God’s desire is for you? After spending time alone with the Father, Jesus was energized to fulfill His purpose. He didn’t hesitate. I long for the day when what flows from my inner being matches the will of the Father. Don’t you? The days I spend quietly with God help determine that alignment. If I spent some time alone with God before all the craziness starts, the more calm of the day I have. Yet how often do I say no to others expectations, like Jesus did, to further walk in the purpose of God? Friends, there is power is no.
Saying no is key to unlocking the freedom of yes, for you.
Don’t believe the lies that circle in good faith building communities. Sharing lessons, ministry, and life won’t make you more complete. Attending every event, every community service project and all retreats won’t do it either. Giving even when you have nothing left to give is not what our Father desires. Nope, He wants you full! He wants you with Him first and foremost. He wants your heart alone with His. Let His Spirit speak to yours and when He is ready it shall overflow to many. Become a cheerful giver. If you are a person stretched beyond yours means, I encourage you. Stop giving to others, and give to yourself.
Give yourself love. Give yourself hope. Give yourself time.
Let the example of Jesus speak to you. Find solitude. Find communion with God. Let Him speak to you. Giving yourself this gift is a fulfillment of God’s plan for you. Don’t believe the lies that self sacrifice means saying no to who you are. Self denial and sacrificing your identity as a person are two different things entirely. Become who you were destined to be. Use your purpose to glorify God. With every breath live a life of love resting in His arms.
If you need to get up early to do that, say yes. If you need to say no to others so you can make it happen, give yourself permission. If you need to let Him refine His purpose and imprint it on your heart, let Him. Give, to you.
Let your answer be yes, and watch Him work!