Saying no can be a difficult thing to do, especially when people are in need or you feel obligated to say yes. But learning to say this two letter word can help save you a lot of heartache and bring you some much needed peace in your life. There are multiple things in your life you may need to say no to at certain times and here are just a few examples:
Serving opportunities that aren’t for you, or your season in life, right now.
Serving in your local church is an honor and a great way to get connected with others who are on the same journey with God. It helps you to become a giver instead of simply receiving from others each week. As you start to grow in your relationship with God and your heart to give grows, you then become an invaluable asset to your church as you help reach new people and help others grow closer to God. There is always a need for a person like this in any church, but just because there is a need, doesn’t mean you are automatically supposed to fill that need. It’s important to stay in tune with God and really focus on serving where he has called you to. This helps ensure you stay fulfilled and excited about what you are doing, as well as helps maximize your effectiveness in helping others.
My husband and I have had to say no to multiple serving opportunities in our church because we knew we just didn’t have the time or that this extra commitment would overburden ourselves and resources. These were great opportunities to serve, they just weren’t for us at that time. Just recently, we stepped out of serving in our worship department after being on the team for 7 years so we could focus on a bigger role in our church’s small group ministry. It was very difficult saying goodbye to something that had been a part of our lives for so long and something we both enjoyed very much, but we sensed that God wanted us to focus on something else and maximize our effectiveness there. After almost 6 months, we are very glad we listened to God and had the courage to say no, and we are seeing God open doors and bring forth amazing opportunities in our lives we never imagined.
Negative relationships that drain you, emotionally and financially.
This one is often one of the most difficult things to say no to. Maybe you feel responsible for an aging parent, or a lifelong best friend, and when you “help” them you feel so drained, whether it’s emotionally, financially or both. We are called to help people right? So then it must be a good thing that we help them when they clearly need help, right?
It depends on whether this person is avoiding responsibility to take care of themselves. If they are spending a lot of money on cigarettes or alcohol and are in jeopardy of their utilities being cut off because of it, then no, you are not responsible for that. If your aging parent needs you to pay for their mortgage because they refuse to downsize to a smaller house and you are struggling to make ends meet yourself, then you are not responsible to cover their expenses in addition to yours. You are not called to be responsible for someone who isn’t taking responsibility for themselves. Obviously, you want to do what you can and we do have an obligation to help our aging parents and friends if we have the means and if they are taking responsibility for themselves. But that may mean helping your parents downsize to a more affordable house/apartment or helping your friend find an alternate source of income if they are unwilling to curb their spending in specific areas. The bottom line is that someone’s lack of responsibility shouldn’t cause your life and finances to spiral out of control just because they expect you to rescue them.
This one is often hard for parents, especially single parents who think they need to compensate for the fact they are the only parent in their child’s life. We as parents want to give our kids the world, especially if we didn’t have a lot growing up. The fact of the matter is that your children don’t have to have every new gadget (cell phone, tablet, computer, etc.), every brand of designer clothes, go to every party or event, or join every sport. In fact, teaching your kids that life is more than having “stuff” and that they are perfectly capable of being fulfilled and happy without it, is a much better blessing to them in the long run than spending money on something they will grow tired of in 6 months anyway. As your children get older, people will say no to them, and God will even say no to them for certain things in their best interest, and it’s best for them to learn to be ok with that.
The “Pinterest Pull.”
I love Pinterest and visit it often for ideas, inspirations, new recipes, workout ideas, and many other things. But I’ve had to learn to not let it pull me to try to be someone I’m not. I can see great ideas for throwing extravagant parties or making supermom crafts, but I’ve learned to accept the fact that these things are honestly not something I’m gifted at, or even what I would enjoy doing!
I’ve gotten many new dinner recipes from the site that have turned out delicious and husband-approved, and I will continue to seek out more, but I can guarantee you that I will not be making a cake shaped like a dinosaur for my son’s next birthday party. I’ve tried throwing a fancy themed child birthday party and while the planning was fun, the execution was stressful and not worth it to me, so I will stick with the tips and tricks I can use and not try to be Miss Pinterest super mom.
A fake you.
A lot of us have an image of who we want to be and who we want to portray ourselves as to the people in our lives. This tends to be most prevalent when we are younger and still trying to prove ourselves. We are scared to show who we really are, flaws and all, because what if someone judges us or looks down on us? As we get older we realize that life is too short to pretend to be someone you’re not, and if people don’t like you for you, then they wouldn’t make a very good friend for you anyway! It’s important to simply be yourself and don’t get caught up in trying to put out an image of a perfect you. No one can relate to a perfect person anyway and most people actually get really annoyed at it. Plus, it’s exhausting! Just be you and you will find friends who are being them and you can live real life together without all the concern about projecting some perfect image.
A constantly perfectly clean house, always well-behaved children, a perfect body - we would love to have them all, but is that realistic all the time? Yes it’s good to clean your house, and yes you want your children to behave, and yes it’s important to eat right and exercise, but take away the expectation that you will be perfect in all these areas all the time. Embrace your limitations and be ok when things might need to slide in a certain season of your life. If you are a full time working mom or even a stay at home mom, don’t worry that your house isn’t always spotless. Sometimes you have to choose between cleaning and playing with your kids, or even taking some personal time for yourself! Your kids won’t always be well-behaved and you won’t always be a perfect parent! There are busy times in life where you may eat more fast food that you would care to admit, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Do the best you can and realize that you won’t always be perfect. We have to rely on God daily because we simply can’t do it all, and the sooner we learn that, the sooner we will be at peace with it.
You don’t have to go to every church event, every party or every get together. Choose those things that fit in your schedule and that you really want to attend and say no to others because you do need a night off once in a while!
How do we know exactly what we are to say no to and what we are to say yes to? It can be confusing at times, but here are a couple ways to help you figure out how to implement this saying no into your life.
Take inventory of your life. Think about, and maybe even write down, your current responsibilities, your family situation, and your season of life, and pray about how being overwhelmed will really affects those things. Are you doing everything half way because you are too tired and overwhelmed to give it your all? Is your family suffering because you aren’t all there? Are there extenuating circumstances in your life right now? Know your life and know yourself. Count the real of cost of whatever it is you are contemplating adding to or subtracting from your life or schedule (Luke 14:28).
Be confident in yourself and your choices. Know your limitations and your season of life. Don’t say no to something timidly and then question yourself or beat yourself up. Pray about it, and make the healthy decision for you and stand behind it. People respect when others are clear and confident (Matthew 5:37).
Learn to listen to listen to God and say no to those things that he never asked you to do, or that he is no longer asking you to do. This is a lifelong lesson, but as you start to learn and implement it, you will find yourself with a lot more peace and joy than a stressed out and overwhelmed life could ever bring you.
Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and 3 year old son. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on Facebook.
Publication date: April 15, 2014