Do you think she wrote this chapter of From Clutter to Clarity
with me in mind? (Oh wait… are all the rest of you thinking the same thing?)
Sigh. Why is it so hard to say no to the things that just don’t truly fit into our schedule, don’t fit with our priorities and values, make us too stressed and busy to do the things God has called us to in the first place, and often,are things we don’t even like or want to do?
I think this quote from Ch.8 sums up much of what Nancy says quite nicely:
For busy career women, wives and mothers, wasting time is usually not our problem. We face another kind of challenge: sorting through all we could be doing to find what we should be doing. There are enough good things out there to keep us busy 24/7. But saying yes to all of them means we say no to other things that are truly more important. Being yes-women means that the values we want to make our priority- marriage, children, friendships, our walk with God- are often neglected while we devote much more time and energy to less consequential things. Clarifying means learning to look past the endless demands for our attention in order to align our schedules with our values.
My husband had a previous pastor who often reminded him that “the good is the enemy of the best”. How often I find that to be true! Nancy is right, in saying that there are enough “good” things out there to keep us continually busy.
The difficulty really comes in sifting through them, prayerfully considering each one, talking it over with my husband, and determining whether each opportunity or good thing truly deserves to be on my schedule, and what amount of my time and energy it will receive. It is just so easy to let myself feel guilty and say yes to a million things that I know that I really don’t have the ability to do, at least not if I’m to keep my priorities in order.
Life is short. Each day is precious. I want to spend each day doing the work that God has intended for me, being where He has called me to be, loving whom He has asked me to love, to the very best of my ability (and fully dependent on His strength and grace). It is my responsibility in each new season of life to be purposeful about asking Him what he has for me, so that I can be diligent and faithful. Good stewardship goes beyond caring for my body, the earth, our finances… how I choose to spend my time is an enormous aspect of stewarding what God has so lovingly given me.
Reading this chapter reminded me that it is high time I got myself out for a day or even an afternoon, to take a personal retreat. I haven’t had one for quite some time, and I am really feeling (and seeing!) the lack of it in my life right now. If you have never taken a personal retreat, you can read more about my own experience in beginning this wonderful and helpful practice. I highly recommend the book Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed, because I found its chapters on personal retreats and setting priorities in relationships to be invaluable.
I’ll leave you with this sweet reminder of what can happen when we seek God before cramming our schedules full and saying yes to the multitudes of people and groups who “simply cannot do without us” (don’t worry- they can!),
When you truly put first things first, all other things fall in line. Confusion dissipates. Decisions are much less difficult. If an activity or commitment fits with what you value most and what you believe God is calling you to do, the answer is yes. If an activity or commitment doesn’t fit with your priorities, the answer is an unapologetic no. Instead of feeling torn, you can rest in the knowledge that you are right on target- putting your energy where it needs to be.
Do you struggle with feeling like no is a dirty word? What makes you feel that way? For those who don’t find it difficult to say no, what has helped you to learn to guard your time, and how do you establish your priorities and decide which opportunities to take or turn down?