No I can’t, I mustered up from the depths of deep people pleaser gut—waves of needed and much desired authorization drowning me. The words tasted raw, coarse rising up my throat and yet ever so satisfying and freeing once they dove off my tongue and landed on my dirty, kid clobbered i phone.
I waited. Silence. Nothing but nothing. Awkward quiet can make me over verbose. But I tied an invisible rope around mouth and double knotted it—Lindsay,don’t do it, don’t back pedal, don’t explain yourself away like a babbling fool. But my mind ran sprinting—running for approval as it does when it senses discord. She thinks I am a total B—-. She thinks I don’t care, but I really do care. My sub- conscious started to rattle off “my good” deeds to justify my two letter curse word: NO.
That was a conversation I had a couple weeks ago with a friend that I know from afar. And turns out she doesn’t hate me or throw darts at my face online. But it does turn out that at almost 36 years of age I still struggle to say no. No to a jewelry party. No to a fundraiser. No to room mom. Noooooooooooo scares the bajeebees out of me. Because deep inside me is this little 6 year old that wants to please,do it all, by golly be it all.
When I saw some time back how much this affliction was controlling me I started praying about it earnestly…it’s an infirmity only God can free you from: Let my identity who I am be found in You and your love for me, dear Jesus. I pray my much unsophisticated prayer like a melody on repeat—like a playlist stuck on one song until the lyrics get in the dirty, shackled places and I begin to say the words subconsciously. I pray it confidently and scared and hopeful while waiting to checkout at Trader Joe’s or on a run or even while I am making coffee with sleepy gook still bonding my eyes shut.
Jesus, would you please set me free from this self-affliction. Here is the goal: God, family, friends. This is what my life needs to look like….and then you tell me what, who is next, hear me God—I can’t live like this forever. You see, I am slowly learning that my kids have to come first. If mommy is at 1001 fundraisers but my kids need me and are one day in therapy because of it—well, then it’s not only worthless…it’s damaging. Now, that doesn’t mean I sit around and read stories using a Mary Poppins voice and do crafts all day—I will never roll that way, my friends. But It does mean that they ( Seth, Roman and Posey) come first even when I have to risk someone thinking a little less of me by saying NO. Laser focus on who and what counts is the name of the game.
I will be honest sometimes saying NO feels like I am stripping off my clothes and just standing there buck naked with a neon light flashing over me on the corner of Broadway. It’s that uncommon in our society—especially in our southern society where being nice and over leveraged is valued over being honest and balanced.
I wish I could sit here and type my heart out at how you overcome this ailment, but that would be in the wise words of Harvey from Suits …..POPPYCOCK. But here is what I have learned from letting yes slip off my tongue too quickly:
- Don’t be afraid to say NO in a kind, firm way… it gives your YES respect, meaning and value.
- If you do say YES and over-commit, just gently swallow the humble pill (you can even chew it if you like) and own your mistake with: “I messed up, I am over committed, please forgive me.”
- Back to #2. Your identity has to be found in God’s unconditional love for you. Not what you do or do not commit to, where you live, what your kids do or do not act like. All else is a race that never ends. There will always be one more lap to feel good enough, complete enough, and that you matter enough.
- The book called Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley radically changed the way I chose to spend my days. HIGHLY recommend.
- This is not a free pass for to spew out NO’s at every opportunity or invitation to live selfishly. Rather to really say YES to what matters. Your time is your life and your life is your story and your story is all you leave behind.