We had been there a few months when the ASK came.
As the new pastors wife I had been given a season of grace when we first arrived at the church Tom would serve. I was 7 months pregnant with our second child. Something about a woman with a bulging belly and a 2 year old on her hip that sends the message ‘give the lady some space.’ After Jonah was born and it must have appeared on the outside that I was navigating the move into a new community, new baby and 2 1/2 year old fairly well….I got the first ask.
“Beth – the ladies group felt you would do a beautiful job leading our cradle roll. Would you like the packet of information so you can get started?”
Now- I knew enough about this fantastic ministry to new moms that I simultaneously affirmed IT was wonderful yet me leading IT was NOT. It involves sending prepared cards and encouragement to new moms on regular, planned intervals celebrating different milestones in their new babies life. What a beautiful, important ministry right? But for me – wrong. Friends- lets be clear – my own family doesn’t get birthday cards on time- why in the world would I think this would be a good spot to serve? I knew that a YES would actually end in future disappointment to the ladies group because I would not fulfill the requirements of the job. So with a smile and a thank you for thinking of me…. I replied “No Thank You.”
I’m very certain I left the woman a bit surprised and possibly offended by my response.
The last pastors wife did it….. so why wouldn’t I? Oh the guilt.
This was the first of several ‘no thank you’s’ I dished out my first year at this congregation… including not singing in the choir or teaching children’s Sunday School. I was rocking some boats to be sure. Despite the feathers I may have ruffled ( wow – rocked boats and ruffled feathers- gasp) at church I was protecting something much more important – my ability to serve my family in a season that required much physical and emotional strength. Tom and I had recently made the decision that I would be a full time stay at home mom which meant a lighter schedule for me to be more present with my babies. I was saying No to income, No to much adult interaction and NO to professional stimulation so I could say Yes to energy, time and focus on the 3 little people that now filled our extra bedrooms.
Since that important day some 20 years ago, the day I said NO to protect my bigger YES…I have had an up close and personal view into the struggle that many woman have with the word NO. For the last 15 years I have invested countless hours coaching female entrepreneurs as well as raising children with other mommas that wrestle with the guilt that often accompanies the word ” NO.”
Here are several phrases I’ve seen swimming through the minds of woman.
“I SHOULD do it.”
“What will people think if I dont?”
“What will people think if I do?”
“I’m a stay at home mom so I’ve got more time.”
“I’m a work outside of the home mom so I’ve got more income.”
“I don’t want to burden my hard working husband so I should really be home at bedtime, or on a Saturday…”
The reality of all of these statements is that there is a slice of truth in each of them… but just that … a slice… not the whole.
As I built my business from my home while managing a household of 5 the ability to say NO became even more important.
No to attending every single one of my 3 children’s sporting events, friends birthday parties, or school field trips. I did some – but not all. No to leading a women’s bible study at church that both filled my cup and those of the participants. No to home cooked meals every night.
When I walked through Target with my 3 littles I was a constant stream of No’s. Mom – can I get this stuffed animal? Mom – can we get a snack? Mom – can we go down the toy isle again?.
NO. NO. NO.
The interesting thing about all of the above No’s is that they often opened up to doors for future better Yes’s.
Not attending all my childrens events – created opportunities for an excited play by play from them after the fact. I often felt like the story telling was more exciting than the story living.
Not leading the women’s bible study at church freed up the spot for multiple other competent leaders to use their teaching and leadership gifts.
Not cooking every night opened up creative meal planning and prepping from both Tom and the kids.
Now writing a blog like this can be tricky. It can come off as prescriptive and preachy – both things I really despise and exactly the opposite of what I hope to communicate. There is one thing though… one truth I want to point you to … and it has nothing to do with your decisions to stay home with children or work outside the home. It has nothing to do with how many nights you cook a home cooked meal or how many organizations you support with volunteer hours. It has nothing to do with how elaborate the birthday parties are you or do not throw for your children .
No thank you.
My desire is to point you and me….
He is the one who wants to be the fuel for our decisions, the wisdom for our questions, the strength to stand for what he tells us to do – even when the peanut gallery tells us otherwise. James 1:5 says “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ASK him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him. He will not resent it.” My passion as I mentor women in business or teenagers making decisions about their future, or young moms deciding to nurse or bottle feed… is to help them / me/ you to trust that we have a God that knows our best Yes’s which means we will have to say some hard no’s. He modeled this when he sent his son Jesus to turn a world upside down with the truth of his love in Just 33 short years on earth. Even though he was God – he walked on earth in a human body with all the physical limitations that come with it.
The Savior of the world showed us the power of NO. He left his posse when he needed time alone. He moved on to different cities while there were still sick to be healed. When people asked him to JUMP – he did not say ” How high?” but “let me check with my Father.” He did nothing outside of His Fathers will. Jesus was clear on his mission, which gave him clarity on how to use his time. This gave him the confidence to give hard yes’s and no’s to those around him – especially in the weeks leading up to his death on the cross. Something funny about a hard, fast deadline – our vision narrows, the fog clears and we get on it – whatever that it is. Jesus “it” was to complete the race he had been given to run where the last mile was death on a cross and the victory lap was done outside of his burial tomb.
I will use the next 6 weeks to prepare my heart for Easter Sunday ( the point of Lent – did you know that?). I’m going to take a look at Jesus’ Yes’s and his NO’s. I want to learn from his life and his words and his wisdom. I invite you to join me ….. and of course you can always say…
No Thank You:)
“Come get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”JESUS . Matthew 11:28-30 MSG