Saying No

Have you ever been in an “Is this even real life” situation where you look around in exasperation and ask yourself with genuine concern, (and, you’ll have to add your own swears because I’m trying to keep it family friendly around here) “How did we get here?”

I don’t know if this is just the way life always has been and I’m more aware the older I get, or if it’s like family life dialed up extra because it’s 2022 and why not, but I have found myself running alarmingly low on tolerance for any extra shenanigans in my life.

I just want to make it from the beginning of one day to the next without anything extra. 

Unfortunately for me, I have a really strong enneagram eight wing seven energy about me and my personality has an uncanny way of sniffing out the extra and inviting it in for a dance party. 

I don’t think it’s just me though, so I’m going to go ahead and talk about it today, if that’s okay with you all.

In today’s Find Grace Thursday show, you’re going to learn how I am finding grace in saying no, even when I want to say yes.

Good day, sunshines! If you’re new around here, welcome to Find Grace Thursday! If you’ve been following along, thanks for motivating me to continue doing this work of digging deep to find grace for ourselves and those around us!

We do this Find Grace Thursday thing because we know that our allyship journeys are marathons of mistakes and we need to be reminded regularly that there is plenty of  grace to sustain us along the way as we make baby steps forward in becoming equipped, reliable, action-oriented allies.

So if you missed it last week, I went public about some pretty big news for our family. We sold our house at the beginning of 2022 and moved to Ohio this summer. I could probably write multiple books about what led us to make that choice and how we actually got here, but I’m going to practice saying no to myself, pass on diving into the details here and instead get focused on today’s topic – finding grace in saying no even when you want to say yes.

We are in a season of new beginnings in our family life. Things have been unsettled for a really long time and we are all craving some regular rhythms and rest. 

We got a little bit this summer, when the girls joined the swim team at the community pool. I spent the summer watching our girls become better swimmers and make friends, and it was lovely.

It was demanding two hours a day commitment because their ages are spread out, but they were happy and getting more confident by the day, and what parent can say no to that?

Fast forward to the beginning of the school year, when the girls are wanting to continue with swimming lessons, and take gymnastics, and play volleyball, and do girl scouts, and find violin lessons, etcetera. I had a day where I spent way too much time reading through all the schedules of all the things, and performed near time-bending motherhood magic with color-coded post-its on the calendar to make it all work.

I took this beautiful proposed schedule to my enneagram five wing six husband and, somehow, even after knowing him for more than half my life, was a little surprised and deflated that he didn’t think my brilliant work was a very good idea at all. 

How dare him. I made it all fit. We could get it all on the calendar.

Was I particularly excited about the multi-car, multi-day, slow-cooker-or-cereal-for-dinner-for-the-rest-of-forever lifestyle I was about to sign us up for? Not exactly, but somehow, I didn’t think that was relevant.

I got it all to fit on the post-its and this family life victory should have been all mine! (She said, stamping her feet in a tiny cartoon villian like tantrum.)

Obviously, I was annoyed when he just looked at me the way he does until I realize the reality of the situation at hand.

One of his spiritual gifts is dream crushing.

But he was wise to remind me, again, that just because we could make it all work didn’t mean that we should make it work.

I’m still learning about this very basic principle.

Just  because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should do it.

Additionally, just because I can do something and I also really want to do something, doesn’t mean I should do it. 

As allies, this is important for us to learn so we don’t act too hastily and choose a yes when a no would have made more sense. Thankfully, we have many opporutnities in our everyday life to practice living out this profound principle.

I’ve interacted with this lesson many times before in my life. In fact, when I was working through my twelve step program, I realized that I was often the source of the very chaos from which my anxiety spun.

I see the pattern of getting my no’s and my yes’s mixed up all over the place. 

As I deal with the anxious energy of things being so new and still not as settled as I would prefer, I am grasping at all the wrong things to steady myself. I need to trust Jesus and ask him how he intends for me to spend our family time now that we are finally where we have felt called for so long.

I need to find my peace in Jesus’ plans, not my pretty post-it filled calendar.

If any of this resonates with you, I want to encourage you to give yourself permission to find grace in saying no.

I have found a couple of questions helpful over the years as I have tried to sort out my yes’s and no’s and align them with the peace we are promised by Jesus.

The first is a general reflection question I use when I am feeling overwhelmed by life:

Am I saying no to things it makes more sense to say yes to, and yes to things I might be able to say no to?

This is a powerful question you can ask only if you are committed to being nice to yourself—no judgment, only an exchange of honesty and grace.

Don’t you dare go asking yourself this question if you’re not in the headspace to be soft, because you don’t need to add extra shame to you’re life when you’re already wandering in “how did we even get here? land”.

The second question is a more, in-the-middle-of-all-the-action kind of question (read: great life-hack for enneagram seven energy).

When you are deciding between a yes and a no about something, ask yourself,

Do I have to choose right now?

If the answer is yes, my answer is an automatic no.

I know that might sound harsh, and maybe this is where that enneagram eight wing seven personality of mine needs a little firmer hand in staying connected to reality, but the truth is I rarely appreciate impulsive me making choices that living-and-trying-to-breathe-in-the-moment-me is going to have to do damage control for later on.

I make my wisest yes or no choices when I’ve had at least enough time to get bored with the potential opportunities the choice holds and if I wait to choose until it’s not new and shiny.

Okay, that’s a wrap on finding grace in saying no today! 

Now you know all about how to find grace in getting your yes’s and no’s in order, but are you curious about how to best live into your yes’s and no’s? I’ve got a blog post about allyship and boundaries  to help you with that.

I'm Jamie and you are welcome here, friend!

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