I’m Still Learning That ‘No’ Is Not a Swear Word

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I’m the girl who will stand on my soapbox and hold your hand while you cry tears of exhaustion to tell you that you are enough and that what you have to offer is enough. I wholeheartedly believe this. But, I’m tired and so are you. Am I right? While I was stress-walking this morning, my to-do list unfolded and instantly became longer. All my roles, projects, and my people that need me in the most needy of ways, seemed to be at war with each other.

I’m a tough girl, always have been, but one of the toughest things I do is remain softhearted. That. Is. Work. And work requires energy, physically and emotionally.

Truth bomb: I cannot be enough for all of these people and have enough sanity left over. And I don’t have to be. In the past I have been the girl saying yes to everyone thinking that would please God. I am by nature a people pleaser, so making everyone happy would have to make me happy. Right? I wasn’t even remotely in a two-mile radius of happy. I was stressed, depleted, and terribly unhappy, but no one knew it.

I was sacrificing my health in the name of being good at everything, even the things I hated doing.  

Something had to change. I had these gifts that God entrusted me with and I was trying to add all these things to those few gifts hoping that somehow I could be enough. Do enough. Minister in the place of enough. Mother in the place of enough. Love in a world where what I brought to the table was enough. Be the kind of wife who knew, even on my most sucky of days, that I was enough.

But, I am not enough.

When I pray and ask God to be more than enough in me; that’s when my messiness ushers in a real, gritty faith that is more useful to God. Because I’m meant to need Him, not be the girl faking my way through the lie that real, godly women are supposed to have it together, all the time. (If you do have it all together, all the time, I need you to adopt me and spend time with me.)  

The struggle is what makes us great. Saying, “I have no idea how I’m going to get all of this done,” is what makes us great because in our desperation we know who holds our world, and fragile pieces, in place.

We were meant to be needy for God, not needy for the approval of others. We mix those things up sometimes. God didn’t promise us that He wouldn’t put more on us than we could handle, whoever made that up needs to be spanked.

The Word tells us this: I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

Our peace comes from God, not on how awesome we are. He overcame the world so we would have a fighting chance.

If the enemy can’t get us to leave the faith and do all the big sins we think are worse than our little sins, he will distract us with the spinning wheels of “I am not enough”.  

We do not need to be enough to all of these people and look to them as the keeper of our worth. When I need to know that I can do all things through Christ, I have a really fat study Bible I flip through and I find a little soul nourishment that reminds me what my main things are. And you know what, having it all together isn’t one of them. I mean, read the Psalms, David was a hot-mess and his emotions were all over the place. David prayed the Imprecatory Psalms and then asked God to search his heart. So, it’s possible for a really flawed person to have a heart after God. This is good news for us.

I don’t have to be enough. I just have to be obedient. I don’t have to do all the little things that someone else thinks that I should be doing because my heart needs quiet space to listen to the Holy Spirit.

Here’s what I do when everything is flipped upside down and I’m a hot-mess and crying all the time.

I realize that something needs to change. My emotions and my health are screaming at me, “Something is out of balance, fix it”  

I look at my list and plan my days with a little more breathing room. I use the word no more often, not because I don’t care. I care enough to be smart about what I can give my best to.

I look at the best example I know of, Jesus. The more the crowds pressed in on Jesus, the more he withdrew himself from the crowds. He took his smallest, inner circle with him. His need of seclusion didn’t exclude those that he trusted. Jesus was selective, he had the twelve, but on mountainsides and dodging the crowd, he had fewer.

My circles become smaller, not larger. I become more focused in knowing who is going to require more than I can give. If it’s work to be around them, I think about that by looking at my social calendar. I can always catch up with them later.

I have my person, that best friend who gets me and can speak truth to me. I listen to her when she offers words of caution. Friendships like this are gold; I hope you have this in your life.

I say the hard things and draw verbal boundary lines with my loved ones when I feel like I’ve been used like a doormat. Which happens a lot for people who are “pleasers”. Gah.

I pray. I repent. I ask God to show me how to make my list shorter, not longer. I forget about perfection and just think about getting it done.

I stop talking about people to other people and talk to God about those people. I hand them over to God because it’s not my job to keep them in line. It’s my job to love them even when it’s hard work.

I say no without feeling like I’ve earned a ticket to hell. P.S. Today feels like Monday.

Much love,

JR