As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am part of the book launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s, “For the Love.” One of the things I am appreciating about this book is the difficult but necessary topics Jen is hitting on (along with a healthy dose of humor). As we continue towards August, when the book will be released, I am going to occasionally blog about some of my favorite pieces.
As a counselor, I have a pretty strong bias towards the importance and power of saying "no," implementing healthy boundaries and the quality of life that comes when we take responsibility for our decisions. All of these elements help facilitate health and sanity for ourselves and others. But here's the thing, even with all this knowledge, it still doesn't make it easy--- for anyone. Even the most resilient, mentally healthy people can have a hard time keeping things in check in regards to commitments as well as filling themselves up with what is good and life giving.
So, imagine my delight when Jen starts out her book discussing the topic of balance/self care/boundaries in her, oh, so lovely way.
"If I had to recite the top questions I'm asked in interviews...certainly included would be this one: How do you balance work and family and community? And every time, I think: Do you even know me? Balance. It's like a unicorn; we've heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airburshed T-shirts celebrating it...but we haven't actually seen one. I'm beginning to think it isn't a thing."
She goes on to say:
"We cannot do it all, have it all or master it all...We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise."
And, I say...preach, Jen.
Because if there is one thing that we can know for certain, it is that we are all finite. Our days are numbered from the start and we simply can't do everything we hope to do. This is both a relief and so troubling. We must be able to use our noes to create space for those precious yeses. As Jen discusses, each of us are vastly different, therefore the things that we excel at or the things which excite us are different too. She also gives another helpful marker which is that each of us are in different seasons of our lives. These varying seasons can and should dictate the lens by which we accept/decline offers, commitments, etc.
Which leads me to say this:
Hello, extremely extroverted person who loves to chat, it's okay to say no to the behind the scene work so that you can use your gifts with people.
Hey there, mama of four miniature people, it's okay to say no to the intense commitment at your church which drains you.
Hey, college student who is pumped about music ministry, it's okay to say no to your friends on Saturday at midnight so you can be a part of something that you love in the morning.
It is okay for each of us to honor who God made us and use our gifts for those things. Does this mean we get to skip out on hard parts of life? Of course not; at times part of loving others, ourselves and God is doing things which simply need to be done. But are we personally called to do everything?
No, dear reader, you are not called to every role.
You and I, we're each called to our own roles; the unique intricacies which God designed for just us.
I love this quote from Fredrick Buechner, which so eloquently describes this truth:
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”- Buechner; A Theologial ABC
So where is God calling you and where are you fulfilled today? What brings you joy? What stirs you up and motivates you to live out of who God made you?
Are there commitments you must let go of in order to honor those things which make you come alive?
My hope for you is that you will find the courage to create space and boundaries for where you are called and what you love...
And don't be afraid to use your no.