JENNIFER FLANDERS, Family Matters
It’s November already, and the holidays will soon be upon us. If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year when your schedule starts to run away with you. There are so many wonderful things to be involved in - ministry opportunities, community activities, concerts, shows, parades, fun runs, bucket lists, Christmas bazaars, candlelight services, family gatherings - a part of me wants to say yes to all of it.
A few years ago, I even wrote a song about my tendency to overcommit. I’ll spare you quoting the whole thing (the morbidly curious can look it up on YouTube under “I’m Just a Mom Who Can’t Say No”), but here’s a sample stanza:
I’m just a mom who can’t say no,
I’m in a terrible fix.
I usually say, “Alright, we’ll go,”
Just when I oughta say “Nix.”
Though I know I can’t do everything,
Sometimes it’s really hard to pick and choose.
Now I’m wound up tighter than a spring -
You better duck for cover when I’m loose!
My list of projects seems to grow
Faster than I can keep track.
I’m feelin’ ready to crack.
How will I ever turn back?
I can’t say no!
Can you relate to that stretched-too-thin feeling? Of course, I was singing this song with my tongue slightly in cheek. As my children will attest, I actually can say NO and do so fairly often:
• To be more productive, I say NO to watching television.
• To preserve family time in the evenings, I say NO to most extracurricular activities that would split us apart.
• To prevent unwanted weight gain, I say NO to excess sugar. Granted, we’ve been struggling a bit with this one lately, after a rainy Halloween left us overstocked with trick-or-treat candy, but my husband has promised to take all the unopened boxes back to Sam’s soon (good thing we saved the receipt!) and that should remove much of the temptation to over-indulge.
But even more importantly than saying NO, I try to consistently say YES to the things that matter most to me and my family:
• To nurture my children, I say YES to doing fun things together, listening when they need to talk, homeschooling them and heeding when my little ones say, “Hey, Mom, watch this!”
• To nurture my faith, I say YES to Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance and Scripture memorization.
• To nurture my marriage, I say YES to spending time with my husband, communicating my respect, praying with him daily and sharing intimacy with unfailing regularity.
Your circumstances are different than mine, so your NOs and YESes will likely look different, as well. And that’s okay.
The important thing is to make sure we are answering all of life’s many opportunities and distractions in a way that accurately reflects our goals and priorities. The challenge has always been saying NO to things that don’t matter so we can say YES to the things that do.
Jennifer Flanders loves to write: it’s one of the things she consistently says YES to. To read more of what she’s written on this topic, check out her book, Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most by following this link: http://bit.ly/balancewhatmatters