I am notoriously a “yes” person. It is a struggle for me to say no and, thus, I often overbook myself. This results in exhaustion, major emotional swings, lots of tears, impatience with my husband and daughter, and often sickness. The Lord has blessed me with a very patient and gentle husband who faithfully reminds me that sometimes I have to say “no.” We need to say “no” — even to things that are good things. Play dates, outings, trips, gatherings, etc. I have come to realize that my saying “yes” to all these things, while they may be fun, enjoyable, and even helpful to others at times, can start to have a negative affect on my family.
Now, just to insert here, I realize that there are times that are just going to be busy and weeks that are just going to be overflowing with things. There are times filled with unique, perhaps difficult circumstances, or times when work schedules are especially hectic, or times when family or friends need extra help. That’s part of life and we should seek to joyfully and unselfishly serve, give, and work in those times. And the Lord is good to give strength and grace to endure during those full, perhaps overwhelming, times.
J and I always want to give of ourselves sacrificially, to ministry, to family and friends, etc. However, if my family begins suffering as a result of us being constantly busy, that to me is a clear sign that I need to step back, take a look at our calendar, and start making some calls and canceling some things. Especially if my committing to things is springing more from a desire to please others than truly to do what is best for my family.
The Lord has used those times of sickness and emotional instability as a wake up call to stop and evaluate. And I’ve had to come to the realization that the way He has created me is different than the way He has created every single other person in the world. And each one of us is able to handle busyness or multiple commitments in a different way. I have friends that are most often on the go and they are great with it! I’ve had to learn to praise the Lord for that for them and realize I’m not them. My family is not their family. My family is a group of 3 people who all like to be home and are most refreshed and relaxed when we have substantial family time, good sleep, and afternoons involving nothing more than coffee, books, walks and chats. We like to have adventures with others, but we also love having adventures just the 3 of us. We thrive in smaller social settings and are easily overwhelmed in large groups. Now, have we had to learn to be stretched and get out of our little comfort zones? Absolutely we have. But we are never going to be those people who are out socializing every evening of the week. And that’s okay!
Through the Lord’s gentle guidance, my hubby’s leadership, and the encouragement of others in my life, I have learned to think carefully and wisely through our days, our weeks, and our months. I commit to very little without talking to J first. I need that accountability. I make sure that AK and I have at least a couple of mornings each week (not including weekends) that we are just home together. Guarding her nap times are very important. J and I make sure we have date nights. We make sure that each of us have quiet individual time. We make sure AK and J have good daddy/daughter time. And all of this is such a process. J and I are often re-evaluating our little family’s needs with each season of life. Our needs change.
But we, better than anyone else, know what J needs, what I need, and what AK needs. We know what refreshes us and what wears us out. We know what makes us work effectively and what makes us completely useless. We know when to push and when we just shouldn’t. The Lord has given us wisdom for our family and it’s so freeing when I rest in that. Wisdom for our family. I don’t need to worry about anybody else. I can encourage them and praise the Lord for how He has created them, but I shouldn’t compare. I shouldn’t say “yes” to them when I know that my husband and daughter need me to say “no.” My little family is my first priority, always, and my calendar needs to reflect that.
A friend of our’s wrote this article and it encouraged me so much in exactly this. He wrote it more specifically to young ministers, but I know he would encourage all of us in this same vein. I haven’t read Part 2 of the article yet, but it is posted as well.