My life hit the fan one ordinary weekend.
I was in the midst of running errands when it happened. I'd just settled into my car seat when I realized I'd forgotten the bills I intended to mail. As I dashed inside, the phone rang.
"Hey, Mona," my friend said cheerfully. "I haven't seen you in ages. Want to get together today?"
"Uh, sure, what time?" I said, distracted by my "to do" list. We set up the time and place, and I hung up the phone.
Then, on my way back to the car, I did something that startled even me: I sat down on the big rock by my driveway and cried so hard, I couldn't catch my breath.
Later that night, after my three-year-old was tucked into bed, I pondered why my friend's phone call had brought me to tears. My emotional meltdown showed me how stressed-out I was by life's demands—many of them self-induced. I needed to take better charge of my life. After all, God hadn't created me to run around constantly "chasing the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:14)—which was exactly what I felt I was doing!
The answer to my problem narrowed down to a simple word: "No." But the problem was that "yes" rolled off my tongue so easily that "no" seemed cumbersome … even embarrassing. So if someone needed snacks for the office, I'd bring them. If my child's playgroup was meeting, I organized not only the activity, but the crafts too. Add all this to working full-time, or full-time-plus when a rush project came along, and it's no wonder I was exhausted. Eventually I taped a neon "Just Say NO!" sign to my phone. Once I'd said "no" a few times, my lips began to form the word more confidently. It's still not easy, but I'm gradually gaining more balance in my life.
Are you feeling exhausted? If so, you may need to say the word "no" more often, too. Here's how.
Know Yourself … and Your Slots
What's your energy level? Personality? Family situation? How much "regroup" time do you need? Do you crave interaction, or run from it?
Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, trying to please everyone by "doing" only brings about exhaustion or bitterness. And that's certainly not the way God calls us to live. Psalm 139:1-3 makes it clear: "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." God knows your personality intimately because he made you, and he doesn't expect you to be someone you're not. He also knows you need to stop sometimes and rest.