Has this ever happened to you…the phone rings (or you get a text notification) and before you even answer the call, you knew it was someone calling to make a request. May be a request of your time, your talents, or even a monetary request. And as you use your most congenial voice, saying “Hello”, you know that your calendar is so full that you cannot possibly say yes to the event that you are being requested to help with. Or possibly you have reached the end of your budgeted “extra” money? All of these thoughts swirl around in your brain like a blender on high speed, and a feeling of panic overtakes you.
“What will they think if I say, no?”
You know that you have the ability to help out at the school fair or to babysit a friends little one; or you finally get the call from a mom inviting you to a luncheon that you’ve always wanted to be invited to! But…you already have a commitment that day during the same exact time. All of those things can go rushing through your mind in the span of seconds. What do you end up doing?
You say yes to that committee, you say yes to that school event, you say yes to the church event, etc. All the while knowing that by saying yes to those things, there will be other parts of your life that will suffer because you are adding too much to your calendar. Or as they say, you’re adding too much to your plate.
That last phrase made me think how about 10 years ago we decided to stop eating on our dinner size plates and changeover to the luncheon size plate. It was a physical and visual help to our whole family as we restructured what our eating habits needed to look like. It works! You cannot put as much food on a smaller plate. (Yep…that’s my college class of “physics for poets” paying off big time there!).
But then there are those days where you attend a function and they have the bountiful buffet table spread before you. Sometimes, well most of the time, you get back to your table and you set down your plate and you exclaim, “Oh my goodness! How did I get this much food on my plate! It all just looks so good and I knew it would all taste so wonderful, I just couldn’t decide and so I just took a little bit of everything.”
I don’t know about you, but after experiences like that, and after finishing a plate that is too full, I feel horrible for the next several days. My body cries out to me, “Why in the world did you do that to me!” My friends, this is exactly what our mind and our hearts cry out to us when we have put too many things on our calendar…making our plate too full. The time with our spouse is diminished. The time spent playing with our children doesn’t happen because we have to spend time preparing for that extra event. Time away from home causes missed opportunities elsewhere.
Now don’t get me wrong…I’m all about being involved in my community; be it my family, our church, our neighborhood, or my kids’ schools. It’s very important to be involved and get to know how we can best serve those communities with the gifts and talents that God has given me. I’m talking about balance here and how to achieve it.
These three verses are just a sampling of how God’s Word encourages and admonishes us to be careful with our speech and the actions that follow. We are created in God’s image, and as such, we are a reflection of Him. God keeps His word and never makes a mistake in His answers. We are called to those same standards as followers of Christ.
I used to get so conflicted about deciding what events to be available for and what not to. I would fall into the trap of wanting to be liked and accepted by the other moms at school, so out of fear of being left out, I would say yes to things that I knew I truly did not have the time or resources to participate in. But isn’t that what we do? We volunteer, and then we volunteer some more, and then we volunteer some more. To what end? We get home at the end of the day and we don’t have anything left emotionally or mentally to give our family. We work so hard at times to gain the approval of others that we don’t realize we are showing our family that they come second. Why do we do this? Why do I not remember that my identity is in Christ and He has the best plan for me…better than I can even imagine for myself.
One way to start changing what your plate looks like, is simply….to think! Instead of jumping at the opportunity and saying yes right away, give an honest answer that might sounds like, “You know what…that sounds really exciting, but I cannot give you a firm answer right now. Let me go home, look at my calendar and talk with my family and I will get back to you as soon as I know if this will work in our schedule.” My friends, that little moment right there will save you a world of anxiety and frustration! You may find that you can say yes…and Honest Yes…and it will be a joyful activity to be involved with.
If you have to come back to that person with an Honest No…you are doing two things: 1) You are honoring the Lord with your time and blessing your family with your sanity; and 2) You are making room for someone else to have the blessing of saying yes. Yes…someone else is out there waiting to be asked. God may have someone else in mind for that event or activity. Be patient and trust that God will have you in the right place for a time intended for you to be a part of! There is no “FOMO” with God ~ you know…”fear of missing out.” God isn’t on pinterest, facebook, instagram, or twitter. Those outlets aren’t bad in and of themselves, but the credence we can give them in our life may at times be out of order.
An honest no is ALWAYS better than a dishonest yes. Take a breath. Pause. Think. Wait. Then answer truthfully and thoughtfully. Honor the Lord in all that you say and in all that you do.