In my early twenties, I was a young, new mom. I went out in search of mom friends and friends for my little girl who loved to talk by joining a few playgroups. I was very insecure because of my age. I wanted to get the parenting gig right, and I had no idea how to do that. I wanted to be liked. I didn’t want to be criticized. So I thought I had to say “yes” to every opportunity to prove to the older, more-experienced moms that I was responsible and capable.
I said “yes” to many things that might be parent adjacent like baking cookies, organizing crafts, and whatever else was needed. I said “yes” to things that had nothing to do with parenting and, in fact, probably took time away from my children like being treasurer of the homeschool association.
My motive was probably a high percentage towards wrong on a scale of pure to neediness. In many ways, I wanted to prove my worth by volunteering and knocking that task out of the park.
I don’t regret those yeses. I learned things and grew as a person by serving others.
I also said “yes” out of a fear of being overlooked the next time. What if they never ask me again? I wanted to be needed and well thought of. I wanted to seem capable, cool, and smart to the older women I was making friends with.
As my children were older, I was able to be more involved with our church that is really more of a children’s ministry than a church. It had lots of outreach to under-resourced neighborhoods: feeding programs, free camps, and Bible classes. I started saying “yes” to all I could in our ministry too.
My motives were a little better when it came to these yeses. I had lost my brother to suicide, and life felt so much more urgent. I wanted to love these children and make sure they knew about Jesus.
I ran heavy and hard at ministry. The undercurrents were that neediness of my soul wanting approval, seeking to prove my worth.
I had to burnout to learn the lesson that I could say “no.”
I had to realize how protecting my times of quiet and rest was crucial to ministry longevity. I needed to protect my time for the “yes” I should say, and I would bring God glory by serving out of a place where I was secure in His love instead of needy for others’ approval.
Saying “no” is still hard for me because of the bad habit of people pleasing, but I am fighting that lie that I have to say “yes” every time I say “no” when I should.
Have you believed the lie that your “yes” is required? What is something you know you should be saying “no” to in your life?
A song for you today.