Can You Say, "No"?

Have you been doing good things but feel you can’t do another thing?
Do you feel like you are just hanging on for life?
Busy people, good people, even people doing the Lord’s work feel burnout.
Because busy people are asked to do more.
Moms are expected to do it all.
People doing God’s work should do good things.
But not all good things are the best things.
Not all the best things are meant for you to do at this time.
Not even all the best things are meant for you to do at all.

Jesus healed.
But Jesus didn’t heal everyone.
Nor did Jesus alleviate the poor. Although that would be a good thing.
In fact He told us, we would always have the poor with us.
Jesus remembered his purpose. He came to save us.
If he spent his time healing everyone, he could not have time to teach his disciples why he had come.
The Pharisees would not have been so angry with Him. It was His teaching that made them take his life.
He could have stopped Mary and Martha from getting angry with him, if he would have immediately gone to heal Lazarus. But it wasn’t his time. He had to wait for Lazarus to die

Sometimes as we go about our mom activities, we get caught up in the “yes” syndrome.
We find our worth by what we do.
People ask us to do anything and we say “yes.”
We don’t want to hurt their feelings, or we know it’s a good thing, or we want to be liked.
But by saying “yes,” we get detracted from what we should do.
One mom confessed that her kids told her she only made dessert when company came. I know the selective ability of children to remember things, but we must be careful not to bake to impress. But to bake for your family’s nourishment.

When I make snacks for church, I make double, so the family has what I take. If there’s nothing left after church, the boys still have some. Sometimes that means we have a lot of leftovers. Then I give more away.

Do you get stuck in the nursery watching everyone’s children, because you’re in there anyway with your own?

Or because you “don’t work,” you become the chauffeur for everyone’s children for ball practice, or programs, or. . .
The list of good things you could “help” others do can go on longer than counting the dust bunnies collecting under your teenager’s bed.
Good things.
Worthy things.
But are they things you should be doing?
You feel yourself ready to crash.
You can do no more.
This is not what life is about.

Several things must be considered.
People will like you even if you say “no” to their request.
If you say “no,” you still have worth.
In fact if you can’t say “no,” your children, your relationship with your husband and your health will suffer.

Every good thing is not for you to do.
Life is a series of choices.
We choose Jesus as our Saviour.
That choice narrows other choices, because we can’t do certain things and please Him.
Others may not understand, even Christians.
If we choose to stay at home to raise our children, our choice determines other choices.
Some things we can’t do, because we have children. Again our choice.
When we can’t say “no” to things, we eventually must choose not to do something else that we should do.
A wise man once told my husband, “Because I am an ob/gyn doctor, some people think I should fight against abortions.” His response, “It’s not my fight.”
What was his fight? Bringing each patient, at high risk or death’s door to a safe surgical end.
He taught our family to choose our battles. To do what God has directed YOU to do, not what others tell you to do.
If he would have fought against all abortions, he would have been too spent to stay up all night saving that one patient who was going to lose her baby when he didn’t operate. Or loose the mom having the baby.
One of those times, that patient was me.

What if you can’t say “no”?
Have your husband tell others “no.”

When someone signed me up at church for kitchen detail, my husband told them I couldn’t do it, I was taking care of him. (Of course all the other women were busy taking care of their husbands, but not with four little ones and an hour to drive to get to church.)
My husband had no problem telling them I couldn’t. I would have.

Or ask your husband before you say “yes.”
When someone requests a favor, answer, “I’ll have to ask my husband.” Or have them ask him.
Your husband will delight in protecting you from over-extending yourself.
And you won’t feel guilty by denying a service. After all you are submitting to your husband.
That is not to say my husband doesn’t ask me if I’d like to do things.
But sometimes he can see I’m taxed before I do. He protects me.

Which brings me to another point.
Not only must you learn to say “no,” but you must learn to ask God, then listen for His answer.
Everything is not for you to do now.

I didn’t write when I had little children. I struggled to write a Christmas letter every year, (I still do.)
Did I regret not writing all those years?
No. I was busy. I was caring for my family. I could do no more.
And now? I can draw from what I’ve learned to enhance my writing. Those years give depth to my writing ( I hope.) I can help mothers, because I’ve been through it, but have come out on the other side.
It’s that answer God gives to “Wait.”

When you push ahead and do that good thing now, you do it without God’s blessing.
And God’s strength.

Your good things fail. You wonder what went wrong.
You rushed ahead of God and He’s not in what you are doing.
He’s promised strength for what He requires, not what you have volunteered without His approval.

Even while you are busy doing what you should be doing, you need rest.
You are a mother for the long-haul, not a sprint. That means you must pace yourself, not give it all for the one event.
Without adequate, and timely periods of rest, you will crash. You will break. You will fail.
God requires all bodies to rest—you, supermom that you are, included.
If you insist on cleaning while your children sleep, because that is the only time you can, then you may have a clean house, but be an ugly, crabby wife and mother.
You cannot deny the laws God has given—all humans (even super-human moms and I would add super-human husbands and children) need rest, and will suffer without it.

Rest. It’s why I wrote about it HERE.
Times of relaxation is part of your job.
Times of rest is essential for you to continue serving as a mom.
Remember the article about mothers being an exercise in self-denial? You do give up sleep, a lot. But you must also replenish. To run until you drop will not help your family.

If you don’t know when you are about to fall, ask your husband or even your children. They’’ll  tell you. But then listen and rest.

“No” Not just a word to tell your children but also a word to tell others who hinder what God has given you to do.

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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