Friday, October 07, 2016

Freedom in "No"

Well, it's been entirely too long since I've written a general blog, not related to life in Florida or Kentucky. This summer, one of the round table discussions I had in my internship was about boundaries-- the importance of priorities, saying no, and making time for yourself. One of the suggestions was to have extended periods of time alone, to schedule "me time" on the calendar as you would any other commitment. I decided to plan for monthly personal retreats. I plan to take time to go somewhere quiet (thanks Air BNB for making this possible on a budget), away from the fast-pace Baltimore life, not working, not being around people, but simply enjoying time by myself, reading, praying, evaluating the previous month, and setting goals for the upcoming month. I divided my goals into 5 sections: Spiritual, Relational, Personal, Physical, and Community. 

For October, one of my goals was to blog 3 times. So here I  am. I've gone back and forth with what I want to post, but some of the topics I want to write about are weighty. I want to pray on them and choose my words wisely, but I also want to meet my 3-blog goal. That said, I'm going to keep this first one simple, and write about the freedom I've found in settling down, setting boundaries, and saying no. 

Prior to moving to Florida last August, a typical week looked something like this 
Monday- Nanny 730-530, Clean house 6-8, Gym 8:30-10
Tuesday- Nanny 730-530, Small Group
Wednesday- Nanny 730-530, Youth Group 6-8, Gym 8:30-930
Thursday- Nanny 730-530, Clean house 6-8, Gym 8:30-10
Friday- Nanny 730-530, Hang with friends or babysit
Saturday- Tutor 10-11:30, 12-1, some kind of evening commitment
Sunday- Church 

I was dog sitting, cleaning houses, babysitting, helping or attending church events, and generally just running myself into the ground day after day. Since college, I had never worked less than a 50/60 hour week, and I always had something on the calendar. If I had a free gap, I tried to fill it. Or I would be excited to have a free moment, but the minute someone asked me to do something during that time, I filled it. I was barely able to get myself out of  bed in the mornings, and snoozed my alarm to the last minute before rushing to get to work to on time. I made little to no time for myself, and even less time for Jesus aside from my "service" to Him.

 I knew it wasn't a healthy lifestyle, but I kept going because I was finding my identity in busyness. 

When people would express their awe of how busy I was, how I managed my commitments, how I "did it all", it starved my insecurity, gave me fulfillment. I found my value in being able to please people by saying yes, it made me feel worthwhile to be someone's hero by helping them out. But it was really exhausting me, and the exhaustion robbed me of the joy I should have in serving.  When I moved to Florida, I was excited to settle down a bit, to stop filling my calendar, to have some free time. I knew not knowing anyone would force that, and it certainly did. But within a few months I was building my calendar back up. Bible studies, small groups, dates, outings, LOTS of babysitting, etc. I was again trapped in the addiction of busyness that I had moved 1000 miles away from in hopes of escaping. 

That's because my busyness was a heart issue. 

While I filled my calendar with things I genuinely enjoyed doing, I filled it so much that I couldn't genuinely enjoy those things anymore. I felt I had to say yes to every opportunity. I didn't want to miss out on anything fun, and I definitely didn't want to disappoint anyone by telling them no. I was in bondage to people pleasing and admiration, and it came at the expense of my own well-being physically and spiritually. 

I now look at busyness differently. I work a reasonable 45-50 hours a week, but I am being more wise in what I say yes to outside of work. I still struggle saying no to things unless I have a valid reason not to, and I'm trying to learn that sometimes a night of down time and rest is reason enough to say no. It's not being selfish, it's choosing wisely in order to be more effective in the things God has called me to say yes to. I can be a better nanny, a better friend, a better roommate, etc when I am not stretching myself so thing that I have nothing left to give myself. Better to give 25% of myself to 4 important things God calls me to than 10% to 10 things I chose myself. When I was busy all the time, I wondered how I would be a good wife and mom if all I ever did was fill our calendar. I knew I needed to learn NOW, as a single, how to prioritize commitments, or I would drag my family into the same exhausting lifestyle. 

Now, my alarm goes off at 6am to start my day with Jesus (admittedly, this usually becomes 6:30). This quiet, un-rushed time has been the best way to start my day. I notice that when I skip this time for sleep, I tend to be more tired and more irritable than if I force myself to get up and be refreshed by time with God. This has been the most important YES in my life, and saying yes to Jesus daily gives me the freedom to say NO to lesser things, because in Him I find my worth, and I don't need to find it in my calendar. My aim is to please Him above all else, and when I have His peace, saying no is easier, because the burden of people pleasing and the idol of busyness is no longer upon me.

Praise be to God. 

No comments: