I Hate Saying "No"
"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
I wanted to run away from it all. I was exhausted, stressed to the max, and overwhelmed.
We'd recently moved to a new city so my husband could start a new job. I had a newborn, a two-year-old, and a four-year-old. Not only that, but my online business was keeping me busy.
There were never enough hours in the day to do it all. It felt like no matter where I was or what I was doing, I had a massive weight of guilt hanging over me and whispering in my ear. They were actually more like hisses telling me I should be ten other places, focusing on ten other priorities that were desperate for my attention.
My house was constantly a mess, and I was forever behind. Most days, I couldn't think straight or get much accomplished. I was just plain bone-tired from late nights working on projects, middle-of-the-night feedings for the baby, and early mornings completing business tasks before my kids woke up.
But my Type A self wouldn't allow me to admit how bad things were to anyone. I just kept pressing forward, kept saying "yes" to that opportunity, and "yes" to this project, and "yes" to that responsibility. I told myself if I'd get a little more organized, or try a little harder, or sleep a little less, somehow I'd find a way to do it all.
Like Martha in Luke's Gospel, I was an expert at staying busy with serving and doing. But I was never able to take time to slow down because I placed my worth and value in my productivity.
So I just kept right on saying yes—even though it was destroying my health and my sanity... and threatening to take my marriage, family, and business right down with it.
Finally, I got to the end of my rope. I couldn't keep going like that. Something had to give. So I sat down with my husband and tearfully told him, "I can't do this anymore. I'm overwhelmed. I'm exhausted. Help!"
I was expecting a big hug or words of sympathy. But instead, my husband looked at me sympathetically and said, "Crystal, you know that you are the one who is bringing most of this on yourself."
That was the last thing I wanted to hear, and his words stung! However, I ended up having to admit he was right.
I didn't have to say "yes" to every commitment and opportunity that came my way. Nobody and nothing was obligating me to do anything except me!
Since that difficult time in my life, I've grown to love the word "no." Not because it's fun to say, but because I've realized that when I say "no" to one thing that's a lower priority, it allows me to say "yes" to my highest priorities.
As the story of Martha powerfully illustrates, Christ didn't come to make us Superwomen. He didn't come to give us the tools to become powerhouses of productivity. Instead, He came to give us abundant life, rest, peace, and joy.
Saying "no"—even though it's hard to do—frees me up to say "yes" to what matters. And that's a beautiful thing.
Dear Lord, help me to remember that You care much more about my heart than what I accomplish on my to-do list. Give me the courage to say "no" to those things in my life that are keeping me from being able to say "yes" to the best. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
How am I bringing stress into my life by being unwilling to admit that I can't do it all?
What mediocre things do I need to say "no" to in order to start saying "yes" to the best?
Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (NIV)