By Amanda Flinn
Not every open door is an invitation to step through. Instead, I’ve been doing my very best to honor God and others with a confident yes and a grateful no.
Learning to Give a Confident Yes
The last few years, I’ve been paying attention to the fact that some doors slam shut while other doors fling wide open. As a Christian, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that when a door opens wide, the opportunity to walk through it must be from God. But lately, God’s been speaking to me about discernment with both my time and my energy.
Through much trial and error, I’ve learned that a confident yes can only be given when I’ve answered the following three questions.
Is it good for me?
Every year at the start of school, a teacher passes around a sign-up sheet for class parties and snacks. In the excitement of the back-to-school night shuffle, you sign up for multiple events, commit to at least 22 juice boxes and decide to take charge of treats bags for first graders. You move on to your next child’s classroom and do it again. And again. And again.
It took me until my third child to realize it, but the behavior of over-committing my time and energy, before even looking at my calendar, is NOT good for me. Hastily signing up for all the things, for all of the kids, leaves me overworked, cranky and resentful throughout the year. Classroom parties and P.T.O. meetings do not fill my bucket. But other moms love it, and I’m so glad they do!
Remember, that saying no (or just not signing up) is not selfish. We are all gifted in different areas. You know yourself and your limits best. If your plate is full in this season, or you are feeling maxxed out on what you can give, let someone else lead the thing. By stepping aside, you may be giving someone else a chance for their own confident yes.
Is it good for my marriage?
As women, we are tempted to do it all and often take on more than we should. If we are not intentional with our time and commitments, our busy schedules will zap our energy and leave our husband feeling like he’s at the bottom of the to-do list. When our babies were young, I’ll be honest, he was. And he knew it.
I’m here to tell you that no one wants to be on the bottom of someone’s list. That person then feels like an obligation rather than a person you deeply desire. If our marriages are truly a priority, then we’ve got to start making decisions and commitments that are best for the team, not just best for ourselves.
Please hear my heart on this. Prioritizing your marriage doesn’t mean that your dreams are put on hold. It just means that they are not elevated and pursued to the point of destroying the relationship with your husband. I promise, the slower pace it takes to get there is worth it.
Is it good for my relationship with God?
As with anything in life, there are opportunities that draw us closer to the heart of God and others that draw us further away. We are naturally inclined to love the new and shiny. We also like to exercise our rights to control not only our destiny, but our daily schedule. Throw in the heaping pile of comparison we deal with multiple times a day, and it’s no wonder we continue to make decisions that elevate self over our relationship with God.
The problem is that the new and shiny doesn’t always last. While trying to be the center of our own lives, we forget that we are called to love and serve others. And when we make decisions based on what someone else has, we very often miss out on the gracious gifts God has for us.
For those working or serving in a church, we have to be extra careful to not let the tasks we are doing for God, replace the time we should be spending with God. You are fully known and loved, just as you are. But God’s not in the business of making you happy. He’s in the business of making you holy. We’ve got to start cutting out the things that are distracting us from becoming more like Christ.
If any of the questions above are not answered with a confident yes, then the final answer to whatever opportunity is in front of us becomes a grateful no.
Friends, a grateful no can be the biggest blessing. Saying no creates margin. It gives us space to breathe, and time to really pour into the things and people that are most important to us. It allows us freedom to explore the spiritual gifts God has given us, without trying to become something or someone we are not.
Doors open and close all the time. Learn to listen for God’s voice. Then be confident with your yes and grateful with your no.
Wife Step: Make a list of your current responsibilities, both inside and outside of the home. Then run each one through the three question checklist. Identify any areas that may need to be converted from a yes to a no.
Amanda Flinn is an award-winning author, blogger and booknerd. As a freelance writer, and the director of Kingdom Edge Magazine, Amanda is passionate about using words to positively impact others. A wife of 16 years, she admits that marriage is the most challenging relationship she has ever had, yet the one that keeps her closest to God. Boymom, dogmom, and friend to anyone who needs one–Amanda wants you to remember that no matter what you’re going through, you’re never alone. To learn more about her debut board book, Yoga Baby, and upcoming writing projects, visit www.amandaflinn.com.
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