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Every Yes is a No

I wrote an editorial about being a yes-aholic when I was in college. I joined all the clubs that would have me and by half-way through my Sophomore year, I was in some form of leadership position in many of them. I stayed up too late working on homework because all my social obligations filled my days. I suffered a major case of mono at Christmas that year and missed an entire semester of college.

It was God’s first attempt at slowing me down.

My junior year I attempted to limit the number of organizations I joined, but I ultimately couldn’t resist saying yes if they asked me to do anything.

I still struggle with it more than twenty years later.

A speaker at a meeting a couple of years ago had us write out our goals and what practical steps we need to take to reach those goals. Then he said everytime we say “yes” to something not on our list we’re saying “no” to taking a step to reach those goals.

Mind blown.

The ink was still fresh on my literary agent’s contract, and I’d just started revisions on my novel. I’d committed time to a non profit organization in the spring and the major project that required my time was gearing up. I told my husband I have to say no to anything outside of work and these two projects until after the first of the year.

You know what happened next. What always happens next. My son’s teacher called. He’d been involved in a trap team (they shoot clay targets with shotguns). He hasn’t done very well at practice so we opted for him not to attend the state competition. The participants compete in teams of three kids. Someone dropped out and a team needed another shooter. The kicker? A parent had to take him to the competition.

Every fiber of my being wanted to say yes. Guilt tore at me. It was for my kid for crying out loud. Then I did the hardest thing, I said I couldn’t do it. I said I’d ask my husband if he could go, but I just couldn’t take it on right then.

My dearest husband, who enjoys his weekends at home, agreed to take him.

The entire day I felt so guilty. A mom should put her kid above herself, right?

My kid was just excited to be going. He didn’t care who drove him. Also, he shot more targets that day than he ever has. It was an amazing day and experience for him.

You know what else happened? I made some serious headway on edits of my book. And my son knows I love him as much as ever.

Yesterday, I had to say no to several great opportunities. Not because any of them were terrible, but because saying “yes” meant I was saying “no” to other priorities.

Here’s the kicker.

The world did not end because I said no.

The world will not end if you say no.

If you always say no, but you know you should say yes, the world won’t end if you say yes.

The truth is if we let something go oftentimes someone else will pick it up. Sometimes God wants to use someone else, but we need to get out of the way first.

For those pros at the nos, you already know this message. Some of us needed to hear it again.


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