Happy New Year! How many of you are trapped in the world of writing “2013” still and then ferociously scratching a 4 over the 3 and contemplating just starting over? I know I am! It always takes a while to get into the swing of the new year and the calm that follows the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Here in Minnesota we are still braving brutally cold temperatures and most schools were canceled the last day or two, which has extended some holiday breaks, but alas! It’s about to warm back up (aka above 0º) and we all will be fumbling our way back into our old routines.
As I begin 2014, I have been thinking a lot about the routines I tend to find myself in and what commitments are on my plate. If you know me, you know that I tend to be a “yes” person. Got something that needs to be done? I would LOVE to! (Shoot, I really don’t want to do that.) Oh you need this? Absolutely, I’m your girl! (Oh man, when am I going to fit that in?) It starts next week and you forgot to look for a leader? Of course I will lead that. (Nooooooooooo. I don’t have the time/ability/interest/desire/passion.) It actually is a really bad habit of mine, saying yes to everything I am asked to do, because at the end of the day, I am left feeling depleted and unable to give my best to people who matter most – like my husband, family and friends.
A month or so ago, God began to stir in my heart that He wanted me to fine tune the art of being prayerful to consider what was asked of me. It made me scrunch up my nose, because the thought of saying “no” and disappointing someone felt uncomfortable. But I took the bait. Okay God, I will bring you opportunities and consult with you before saying yes or no. Just make it clear.
Around the same time, I read these powerful words in a book: “I realized then, that while there are many things that need to be done, things I am capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them. Even if I have a burden for a certain need or project, my interest or concern is not a surefire sign that I need to be in charge. God may only be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. What’s more, I may be stealing someone else’s blessing when I assume I must do it all… It is a costly mistake, for often, when the Holy Spirit does ask something of me, I’m either knee deep in another project or too exhausted from my latest exercise in futility to do what God wants of me.” (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World)
It was exactly what I needed to read to give myself permission to say no to things that I didn’t feel called to do. Steal someone’s blessing? Being too exhausted to actually do something that I should be doing when that time approaches? Totally convicted.
And wouldn’t you know it? I was tested nearly immediately with an invitation to serve in an area that I know I would be skilled at. However, instead of saying “yes, sure thing!” right away, I prayed about it. And felt strongly that this was not a venture I was supposed to take on and instead, simply needed to offer to pray for the right person to step up to the job.
I don’t do well saying “no”. I don’t think it was the response this person was hoping for and I know that obeying Him will likely cause more work for this person and I feel awful about that. But what outweighs that feeling and gives me peace is simply knowing that I am keeping myself open to whatever it is ahead where I am supposed to say “yes”. I will have the time, the passion, and the capability to take that on. OR, I will simply be able to focus with greater attention on what’s already on my plate. The team in our early childhood ministry at church that I direct, or the small group I lead, or the relationships I have built. The lifestyle changes we are making to our diets and bodies.
As you step into 2014, I challenge you to look at what you have on your plate. Are you carrying things around simply to please others, but as a result, draining yourself of everything – like your joy? Are those activities or responsibilities keeping you from being open and available to things that do interest you? Are you able to put Him in the number one spot in your life or is He getting pushed aside as you work to please everyone around you? Here’s the thing – responsibilities are a good thing. We all need that structure and we all need to work hard at things – but not at the sake of our relationship with Him or our sanity. We can’t be consumed at keeping everything in the air because our focus will shift and we will find ourselves frantically missing the good opportunities. I even have to evaluate the small, fun things that add up. The coffee dates, the evenings meetings or movies with friends. How many yoga classes to commit to a week and how much running (figuratively, not literally, but I literally don’t run) I am packing into a day. All these things can easily deplete us if we don’t guard our calendars and time.
A new year. A new chance to look at our busy schedules and no longer allow Satan to use the hectic-ness and commitments, our worn out bodies and our exhausted emotions, to create barriers that push us away from what we are supposed to be doing. For some, what you are supposed to be doing is simply spending time with your family. Or maybe it’s taking on a weekend serving position at your church. Or perhaps its saying “yes” to joining a Bible Study or (gasp) leading one. Will you allow your energy and joy to be swallowed up in obligations that He has never called you to take on? Or will you join me at His feet waiting to find out what His will is for us before saying “yes”? And then faithfully taking the step of obedience towards the commitments we are called to do?
Here’s to a 2014 filled with the right callings. Filled with JOY. Filled with Him!
PS – Join me in the awkward celebration of having my shortest non-medicated natural cycle EVER! 63 days. (If you are wondering what I am talking about right now, let’s just safely assume you don’t need to know. You can stop reading now.) But seriously, my PCOS has prevented me from having natural cycles without the eventual use of Provera (a AF inducing medication) literally for years. It was an answer to my desperate prayers to God to show me that this new naturopathic route was actually doing something useful. Honestly, it has been really hard. I am not used to taking 80-million supplements a day and the anti-inflammatory drinks that I am temporarily drinking as we fight this internal infection has been testing every ounce of strength. The diet changes have felt a lot more natural now and I am getting pretty used to my new routines and lifestyle. But it’s slow. And while I *expected* that, I forgot what slow felt like. I have been missing the pace of IVF and western medicine. But He was faithful to hear my frustrations and discouragement and getting AF was a wonderful sign that *something* is starting to work again. And with that brings renewed hope that someday we may be able to celebrate a miracle baby. So thank you for continuing to faithfully pray for us in this slower time. It still is a battle, but we still have our boxing gloves on. :)