This is the optimal time to say “No,” “Not yet,” “I can’t,” “Maybe in three years.” … It’s the season to say “Yes” to a simple schedule that doesn’t mutilate the rhythm of your household.
Jen Hatmaker sure knows how to hit the nail right on the head. I read this devotion at the most perfect time in my life. A time when I was feeling burnt out. Exhausted. Like I was a complete failure at just about everything. Not because I was truly a failure, but simply because I was trying to do too much. I was trying to be all things to all people. I needed to say no.
When do we lose the ability to say no anyway? My 20-month old daughter seems to shoot it right out of her mouth when there’s anything she’s not interested in doing. She’s not worried about hurting anyone’s feelings. She knows we’ll love her anyway – even if she does say no a thousand times. She knows we’ll keep coming back for hugs and kisses, no matter how many times she tells us no.
She’s not afraid of our response. She’s simply stating her desires. “No, I do not want that apple. No, I don’t want to play with blocks right now, I’d rather go outside.”
We often get frustrated, but most of the time we respect her no. We don’t force her to eat, and we try to let her choose which toys to play with and when. There are, of course, times when her no doesn’t always succeed – but for the most part, we try to listen when she says no. We respect that by saying no, she’s asserting what’s most important to her at that very moment. And when we respect her no, we teach her that it’s sometimes okay to say no.
So why is it so easy for me to forget that simple truth?
Listen up folks …
It is okay to say no.
We are re-learning how to say no around here. No to obligations that drain us. No to invitations that don’t fit in with our normal daily routine. And maybe most importantly, we’re learning how to say no to things we’d really like to do, but just can’t fit it on our plate at this time in our lives.
It may be the hardest thing I’ve learned to do in my adult life. There are so many things I’d love to do. So many causes I’m passionate about. So many ways I’d love to make a difference. But right now, I just can’t do it. And that’s okay.
Because it’s okay to say no.
One day my kids will be out of my hair. They’ll be in school most of the day and I’ll have eight hours to do things I love to do. Or the things I don’t really care for, but that have to be done. And I’ll look back on these precious days I’m living now and be so thankful that I learned how to say no.