The Art of Saying No

Due to my personal and community obligations, I am constantly on the edge of having a hectic schedule. It's getting better, but my community is large enough that I can easily plug up two or three months with a few nods. I used to believe that being busy made me mature, important, useful, spiritual even. And so I would try to help out in every part of my church or pick up another few hours of work in the middle of an already busy day, and all along the way I felt anxiety from a distracted schedule that left no room to breath. Ironically, I was so busy doing any random thing that I didn't get to spend much time doing what I felt was most important.

Long story condensed, in a season of clarity I started saying No.

No to good things.

No to another opportunity to make money.

No to a new writing project.

No to everything.

No without having to offer legitimate reasons for saying so.

No until I felt like my commitments were no longer steamrolling me.

No until I wide open schedule that allowed me to evaluate clearly the choices in front of me. Would you be interested in such and such? Give me a bit to think about it.

No until I could actually say yes.

I'm sure volunteer organizations and persons over 40 are wincing right now. As if there aren't enough people in the world my age saying anything but yes. I get that we (of any age) are selfish people, many of whom desperately need to get off their duff for once. But for those genuinely wanting to say yes to the right things, who as a result say yes to everything, saying no is the place to restart.

No is cleaning house, pulling out nicknacks that you haven't used in years, yet can't seem to throw away, selling off or throwing out that unfinished model airplane that has nagged you for the past few months. No is admitting that you stopped caring a long time ago. And when the room is empty we can start saying yes again.

Yes to things that change the world around us.

Yes to friends, children, spouses.

Yes to that last second get together with someone in crisis.

Yes to resting.

Yes to slow and steady things that need years to develop.

Yes to the things that matter most.