May I be totally honest with you?
I hate saying “NO!”
Everyday, I’m presented with exciting opportunities, needy relationships, pressing engagements that tempt me to “come and follow”… Activities and adventures always seem so much more fulfilling than my daily duties and obligations. They beckon me and draw my heart away from home.
I’m spring-loaded to say YES.
I’m surrounded by a culture that affirms my YES.
I’m influenced by others who seem to successfully live their own YES decisions.
I just want to say YES!
But still, there’s a little voice in my head and heart that reminds me that sometimes, the best YES is a NO.
Sometimes, NO is the priority answer.
Sometimes, NO is a safety net.
Sometimes, although it’s so hard to say, NO is exactly the right answer for my heart and it’s exactly the right answer for my family’s heart, too.
Don’t get me wrong!
I say YES the majority of the time…
But, more and more I’m realizing that every YES produces a corresponding NO.
Every time I say YES to one thing, I’m in essence saying NO to another.
When I remember this truth, I’m challenged to make sure my yesses count… Not just for the moment, but for eternity.
When my children were all young, I suffered terribly from Wanderlust. Some days, it was almost impossible for me to Just.Stay.Home. I wasn’t content with the dailyness of life and I desperately wanted to get out and go! Somewhere! Anywhere!
Too often, I gave into that wanderlust and we all paid the price with late meals, unfinished work, and cranky napless children.
It’s taken many years and a concentrated purposefulness of heart to overcome my tendency to wander. That’s not to say the temptation is gone, but I’ve learned to resist it more consistently.
Well, most of the time anyway!
Although when I was learning to say NO, I sometimes had a twinge of envy over what I thought I was missing, I never regretted those times I said NO. However, there were absolutely times that I said YES, and then regretted a commitment that I couldn’t escape!
It’s a funny thing… When my kids were all small, I absolutely understood the need to be home more and in the car less. There was such a clear correlation between discipline issues and rearview mirror parenting. You know what I mean… barked instructions conveyed from the driver’s seat to the back seat accompanied by glaring eyes in the rear view mirror!
I saw how much more successful my children were when they had peaceful days at home.
I realized how much calmer I was when we weren’t rushing out the door.
I even began to enjoy the days that we stayed home and did “nothing. (Nothing, of course, except school, laundry, meals, laundry, games, laundry, chores, laundry, baths… yeah, just a normal day of nothingness!)
In the back of my mind, though, I looked forward to the day that all of my children were teens.
(By the way, we’re almost there… My baby turns 13 next week-How Did That Happen?)
Is this a cool teenage wannabe or what?
I just figured that once they were finally teens we could run more. We could be footloose and fancy-free. We could go with the flow and forget the clock and calendar.
I was wrong!
Today, surrounded by my teens and young adults, I’m finding that my NO is more important than ever. As easy as it has become to say YES without reservation, my family needs NO just as much, if not more, than before.
When I say NO to running around and YES to a quiet evening, I’m modeling what it means to have some precious down time. I want my kids to realize the importance of stillness. It is in their times of stillness that they will hear the voice of God. Too much busyness drowns out Jesus and leaves them (and me) dry and spiritually exhausted.
When I say NO to time with friends and choose instead to stay home with the family, I’m opening the door to precious conversation. I want to know my kid’s hearts. Those deep heart-connecting conversations just won’t happen if I’m always running out the door to yet another appointment. Even with my married children, when they come to visit they need heart connection, not another shopping trip.
When I say NO to a quiet home and YES to a houseful of teenagers, I’m showing my own kids just how much I treasure their friends. I really do love all of my children’s friends, but unless I say NO to my hobbit-like, hermit-like tendencies, I lose the opportunity to put that love into action. When I love their friends, my kids feel loved. It’s a win/win!
When I say NO to what’s good, in order to say YES to what’s best… I am blessed!
Consider those activities, those needs, those relationships that are demanding your YES right now. Is your YES the right response? Or, is the best YES perhaps a NO? Only you and God can answer that question!
Today, I’m praying for us all that we’ll never settle for a mediocre YES, when the best YES is really NO!