Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The year I learned to say no.

Before I was a mom, I was a teacher.  I kept busy, not committing myself to different things because teaching took up a lot of my free time.  I loved it. Then, I became a mom and made the surprisingly easy decision to quit my job and stay at home.  The year Ethan was born was incredibly peaceful.  It was a fun year and really quiet.  I think the only commitment I made was to join a MOPS group (so thankful for my sweet friends who encouraged me to sign up!). There was something about this year that I look back now and realize that I crave that peace. The time.

Something happened after Ethan turned one that changed.  Things were easier since he was napping less and so I began to say yes to things that had always been a no.  I taught Sunday School, worked in the nursery, joined a Bible study, eventually became the coordinator of Mops.  I even tried to be a P31 super woman by starting a pampered chef business.   I absolutely loved doing each and every one of these things, but over time I became tired and sometimes resentful that there was no rest.  No margin.

I wanted more.

I needed more.

There had to be more.  Nobody was getting my best, especially not my husband and my kids.  So, I did something that some thought was pretty drastic.  I stepped down from EVERYTHING.  For entire year, my only commitments were Bible Study on Tuesday, our life group, and my family.  I also enlisted the help of my wonderful mother in law to watch Weston every now and then so I could go and do things for me.  I realized that in all this doing I was forgetting about myself.  I know that sounds selfish, but I firmly believe that we have to take care of ourselves to be our best at anything.  

It was also a hard year.  I had to get used to NOT doing and NOT being.  When I was asked to do things, my first instinct was always, "sure."  I had to fight that instinct to say yes.  There were a lot of things I would have loved to say yes to, but knew in my heart that I couldn't.  Not this year.  Not now.  I needed to practice the art of saying no.

Saying no meant saying no to some fun nights of fellowship, and while I missed it, I really didn't.  I missed the fellowship with my mom friends, but realized I longed for deeper friendships with other moms.  Something I often missed out on because I was leading something and too busy to fully connect.

As the year of saying no ended, I knew I had to stop saying yes to so many things.  I had to set boundaries for my time and commitments.  I had to be selfish with my time for the sake of my family and for my mental well being.  By saying no, we had more quality time to spend together as a family.  I also became more intentional seeking out friendships, making coffee dates with new friends.  I also found I had become more consistent with my quiet times.  I ended that year, closer to God, closer to my family, and much more content.  Sometimes, we don't need more in our lives, we just need to slow down and allow ourselves some margin and rest.

I don't think that we were ever meant to be such busy people.  I know that as women, we want to do it all.  I honestly, don't think we were created to do it all.  Last summer, at a Bible study leaders training, we talked about the different generations in the room, and one common observation from the wiser generations was that our generation is constantly doing things.  We excel at multi tasking.  We want to accomplish everything.  This is incredibly true and saddening.

Psalm 46, calls us to "Be still and know He is God."  I found that it is really hard to do this when we are constantly going and doing.  We are so busy, it's hard to shut off.  When we are so busy constantly saying yes, we are missing out on the quiet moments where we can hear God.  Our times with God become rushed and impersonal. . . just getting the job done.  When I started saying no, I became hungry for His word. 

I also learned that sometimes God has someone else in mind and if we constantly say yes, then someone else may miss out on an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.  And if no one else can do it, maybe it's not supposed to happen.  We don't have to do it all.  We aren't meant to do it all.  We can't feel guilty for saying no.

In 2016, I encourage you to slow down and commit to being less busy.  Let's not be tired, overworked moms that want to do it all, but moms that want more time. 

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