Today’s post is a perfectly timed guest post from my online friend Jacey from The Balanced Wife. This idea that you can do anything, but not everything is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way over many years. Even this week, I had to say no to writing here as work and family priorities took over. Jacey gives some very wise encouragement here I hope you take to heart. Also, be sure to check out her brand new eBook on the same topic at the bottom!
I sent a relieving but discouraging email last week. I had agreed to help someone with a small but recurring task, but I knew in my gut even as I said yes that I should have said no.
So there I was, a month later, backing out for reasons that were already true when I said yes in the first place.
This wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last I commit for all the wrong reasons: out of obligation, fear of letting someone down or fear of missing out.
Even when my reason is pure – a genuine desire to help – I find myself in the same position by denying the limits of my time, energy and attention.
Admitting my limitations feels like admitting weakness, but I’m learning that an inability to say no is itself a weakness that says more about my insecurity than my reliability.
To be available for what’s most important, we have to say no to what isn’t. It takes strength and wisdom to discern the difference.
What happens to overcommitted women who habitually pile on more? They lose their joy. They get stressed and anxious and stop attending to the truly essential.
They consult their checklists and their calendars and tie their self worth to checked boxes. They forget to thaw the chicken for dinner, forget to return the call that mattered, forget to pray.
They start resenting the commitments they’ve made to good things. Acts of service become a point of pride (the destructive kind) and identity. It all starts to feel too heavy, too burdensome.
They dream of a nap and a bubble bath but feel guilty indulging in either. They act from their own strength and inevitably burn out.
What do we do in the face of this losing cycle? Unfortunately, I’m afraid we perpetuate it. Instead of assuring that exhausted woman it’s okay to get off the treadmill, I find myself rushing to the first treadmill I can find. Surely if she can do it, I can too.
That thing that’s draining your energy? It’s okay to quit. Maybe it’s a book you are slogging through, or an exhausting friendship. It could be a failing business, a networking group, a gym membership, or an unreasonable client.
Maybe it’s even a good thing that needs to be set aside to make room for something better. Whatever that thing is, lay it down, because you can’t do it all.
Here’s to saying no from strength instead of yes from weakness. Here’s to running the race He’s set before us and forsaking all others.
Jacey is passionate about living intentionally in the face of real demands, the unexpected, and human nature itself. Her book on the topic, Escaping Reaction; Embracing Intention, released this month. She writes about relationships, faith and personal growth at The Balanced Wife. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, Mike, and golden retriever, Jack.