Standing on the corner of a busy street in South Kensington, I look at my watch and exclaim, “Oh my gosh! Is it really almost 5:00pm?” Two new friends visiting from the US immediately pull up a sleeve making assessments while simultaneously checking mobiles.
Caught up in meandering through five floors at Harrods, after a girly lunch at Muriel’s Kitchen, I lost track of time and all responsibility.
A few minutes later we part ways in the tube station; west on the Piccadilly Line for me while they travel east to explore an art store on Russell. I’m not late for an appointment; I’ve just had to say no to some good things lately.
This month, H is preaching a series called Navigating Change at our church. A few weeks ago, he spoke on Saying No to Say Yes; no to our old self, no to fears and insecurities and no to good things in order to make room for saying a bold yes to Christ.
In choosing to part ways with my friends I said no to a good thing but it wasn’t exactly saying yes to God. Or was it?
As I navigate changes in roles as a writer, mother, friend and wife, all wrapped up in a new culture, I’m thinking about my best yeses quite a lot lately.
How do you identify the best from a smorgasbord of good options and opportunities?
In the past, I might’ve assumed guilt about making that small decision to go home instead of site-seeing with my friends, feeling a bit selfish. Or I might’ve transferred my own assumptions into the situation, choosing false empathy instead of truth.
When sacrificing time comes from a place of guilt, the result is like eating too many donuts. Immediate gratification without thinking through the consequences ultimately leaves you regretful and sick.
My best yeses flow from knowing who I am and what my ultimate contribution is to the world around me. That discovery has taken a few years of coaching and intentional time wrestling through the details of my past.
What I’ve learned in the process is our best yeses are constantly changing because the Christ-life is a continual discovery. God isn’t static; He is always in the process of creating.
And that’s why we can’t put new wine into old wine skins.
The new thing God is doing in us cannot be accomplished by continuing to live in the way we’ve always done it. New seasons, new calling, new purpose – they require new rhythms, new risk, new levels of surrender and sacrifice. Confidence in saying no comes alongside our best yeses.
We cannot enter into God’s intended rest by continually adding things to our lives and then pretend life is as it always has been. It’s idealistic and may I suggest, self-sabotage, to think you are a time-keeping super hero. Ask me how I know that!
On a sunny day in London, walking serpentine through crowds of people, I parted ways with my friends because it was a small act of obedience honoring the time God gives me. My ultimate contribution that day was to make dinner for my family; fully present at the table instead of hurried up on the inside.
The Gospel of Mark tells us what happens when we try to insert something new into our old life. It’s messy, that’s the gist.
We are created with purpose for such a time as this. I want my choices to be golden, not second rate. You? For me, that requires some fear of God when I say yes to opportunities.
How are you choosing the best from the good in your everyday life?
Such a great article here, Shelly. I need this reminder too often. Saying “no” to be able to say “yes” is such a gift really…
Thanks for being here Kris. Love you too!
For me big changes came with becoming a mom for the first time. Just before flying to Ethiopia to bring our little guy home, My husband began a new job that required frequent flying. Weekends are precious to me. Especially after my husband returns home from a week or two of travel. It means saying no to a number of good things in order to give Bek the stability of both parents. Perhaps the biggest thing to deal with is having to explain ” graciously ” and without explaining away..my decision (s).
So true that people don’t or won’t understand why we say no to good things but they aren’t the ones we are accountable to either. Having two parents consistently around seems to be an anomaly in our culture. Glad you are saying yes Celeste.
“That discovery has taken a few years of coaching and intentional time wrestling through the details of my past.” Love reading your journey. Sounds like you have been doing some work like I have been…It seems you are starting earlier than I did and I am glad for you. Best yeses – I have been learning too. God bless you as you learn and grow.
Sometimes I feel like I wish I could’ve started some of things I’m doing now a few decades earlier Carol, but I know God’s timing is perfect.
yes it is. I didn’t really start learning this until after I was 57. now 10 years later here I am…wish too I had started earlier, but yes, God’s timing
I’m so glad you have so many wonderful new opportunities, even though it will mean saying no to others, maybe even perfectly good others, but not for such a time as this. I don’t believe God ever changes his call on our lives, but often our mission/s. I love how you are saying yes to your call, your purpose (even though it is hard, even though it could potentially be misunderstood–though true friends will always support you). Maybe saying YES to God is really saying no to self. I never find that easy, but very, very rewarding. May the Lord BLESS your BEST YES!
And btw, I can’t tell you what a delight it is to see all these photos of London. What a treat. So glad you said YES to living there!
Saying yes to God is often saying no to self but what we give up is usually peanuts compared to what we gain in relationship with Him, yes? Praying for both of us Lynn. xxx
Amen to the peanuts, Shelly! 🙂
Oh how I loved this! How true and confirming these words, “My best yeses flow from knowing who I am and what my ultimate contribution is to the world around me.” And these, “My ultimate contribution that day was to make dinner for my family; fully present at the table instead of hurried up on the inside.” I’ve spent years here in a fine yet unfamiliar place learning, maybe relearn g, and trying desperately to remember the reality of these truth. This was a breath of holy air after a day of thinking, yet again, about how to live this out.
I’m so glad to know we are walking these things out together Natalie. Taking one baby step at a time is how we do it. xx
This and the Sabbath posts are really resounding with me at the mo as I enter a new and unknown phase, having to move at a different pace to what I’m used to. Blogged on it here and quoting you (hope thats ok!) http://www.pickingapplesofgold.com/discovering-sabbath-rest/
I’m definitely going to have to think very carefully about my yeses and no’s as things get back to a new normal…
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, so good to know there are others in a similar boat! xx
I’m so glad to know the SS letters are fueling some thought and resonating with your current life situation Jules. That makes me smile. Thank you for sharing about it on your blog, I loved it. Going to include it in our letter this week so people can meet you.
ah thanks Shelly, mutual appreciation going on 🙂 love that! xx
A large portion of my time these days is spent babysitting our granddaughter– and blowing bubbles, mashing Play-Do, plastering stickers, etc. Some might see a woman wasting time; I’m trying to see the love and life-lessons being built into a toddler who will one day serve her Heavenly Father. These highly-impressionable preschool years pass by quickly. They mustn’t be wasted. So my personal dreams may be on hold for a bit, but I think the outcome will be well worth it!
I imagine you are the best grandma evah Nancy. Not wasting time but investing in the future of the Kingdom, can’t assign value to that, it’s priceless.
Thank you for that encouragement, Shelly. Your words mean much!