I have always been a “yes girl.”
I love to stay busy.
I enjoy helping others.
I hate saying no.
I don’t like disappointing people.
*Ahem* sometimes I think I can do a better job myself
…There are many reasons, but basically I have always lived my life as an over-committer.
The past 8 months have been very different. Actually the past two years have been different. It all started in January of 2014 when I realized that I couldn’t take care of myself and keep up with everything I had committed to, so I stepped down from my voluntary leadership position within our church. I remember talking to our pastor 9 months later, telling him how exhausted and stressed out I still was. He told me that maybe I should step back from more things. I told him “all I am doing is working, and I can’t really quit that!” It took me 9 more months, but eventually I stepped down from my job, too.
The old, over-committing Lindsay was excited for this new season because it meant I would have 40 more hours each week to give to whatever cause I wanted! The list of volunteer opportunities and projects was endless and I was ready! But it turns out the cause that needed my time most has been my health. And for some reason that is the hardest place for me to invest.
My season of freedom quickly became a season of no. I was asked to help disciple young adults through our church, something that I am very passionate about, but I had to say no. I haven’t pursued any of the long-term volunteer opportunities on my list. I’ve had to cancel on volunteer shifts, coffee dates, and plans with my husband and family. I never seem to know how I will be feeling, and I have learned that it is worse for me to feel guilt from having to cancel if I am not feeling well. So I have stopped saying “yes” to begin with.
My husband asked me recently if I feel like I have purpose right now. I think he was worried about me sitting around the house doing nothing for the rest of my life (valid concern—I am an ISFJ after all). I tried to explain to him that this is just a season. A season of “No.” If I’m being honest, it’s probably been one of the hardest seasons for me. Because I want to have purpose, I want to give back, I want to be there for my friends. Heck, I just want to feel good enough to leave the house on a consistent basis! I also begin to feel selfish. I have always had very high expectations for myself, and frankly as much as I enjoy reading all day, it’s really not what I had planned for this point in my life. I’m sure many people can relate to that sense of guilt that comes anytime we put self-care on the to-do list.
But I have learned the importance of listening to my body. I have also learned that saying “no” now usually means I will be able to say “yes” sooner rather than later. If I push my body too hard, I can end up wiped out for days. But if I rest until I am feeling well, not only will I enjoy the activity more, but I will not suffer for days afterwards. This is a difficult concept for me, especially since our culture leans towards instant gratification. But I am going to continue to press on, to feel good about saying “no” and making rest a priority so that someday soon I can enter my “season of yes.”
(Special thank you to all the friends and family who have been so gracious with my declined invitations and last-minute cancelling of plans!)
Is it difficult for you to say no, to put yourself first?