While driving into work the other day, there was a beautiful, majestic deer looking very powerful and peaceful on the side of the road. As I glanced at it, I thought, “Maybe that burly deer will pounce into the middle of the street causing me to get in an accident that would cause just enough pain where I would have to be in bed for a day (or, even better, two days).”
What can I say? I am tired, and in my mind, the only way of finding rest is wishing I would get into an accident. It’s sad, pathetic, embarrassing, but also true. During the split-second I hoped the deer would run into my path, I also heard the word “prune.” Hello, God? Is that you? You want me to prune things in my life? What? Prune my kids? My husband? My job? Cooking? Cleaning? Carpool? I can’t prune any of it! What, God? What am I supposed to prune? Tell me, please!
I believe in God—that he talks to us and guides us through life if we’re listening. So I was literally waiting for an answer. Nothing. OK, maybe if I Google “prune,” I’ll understand the word better and then I will know what to do. Here is the definition I found:
Prune: To lop or cut off the superfluous branches of trees, to make them bear better fruit or grow higher, or to give them a more handsome and regular appearance.
So let me get this straight. I’m to cut out excess branches from my life to make it more beautiful? And if I do this, then I will get rest? What excess do I have in my life? And then it hits me.
I’m a yes person. I say yes to everything. If there is a free slot of time in my life, I will fill it with something. I’m saying yes not because God is telling me to do it, but because I want people to like me. And not just like me, I want people to need me and think I’m important. ‘Cause let’s be honest, if someone is asking me to do a project or lead them or even be on a committee, it must mean that only I can do it. I have to say yes. Wow, how very egotistical of me to think that only I can help them.
What’s more concerning is as someone who follows Jesus, I have completely forgotten to include Him in my decisions. I get so wrapped up in doing everything on my own and saying yes to everything, I forget my time is actually all His. If I were truly listening to God (who wants what’s best for me), I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in right now, hoping I get into an accident so I can get some rest. I would be resting and getting healthy because that is what He wants. Actually, it’s what He commands because he loves me. How crazy is it that we have a God who loves us so much he wants us to rest?
I noticed that in the process of “look how amazing Kacie is,” I have packed my schedule with so much that by the time I get home, I’m tapped out. I have nothing left to give my kids, let alone my husband. When I get home, I just want to sit on the couch and veg out and decompress, but I can’t because I have to be a mom. I admit, there are days where I’m short with my children, lack the energy to carry on conversations, and feel so tired that I’m just a grump. By saying yes to everything else, I have put the most beautiful and important fruit in my life on the back burner. My children deserve better. My husband needs better of me.
I get it, God. I need to learn how to say no. More does not mean better; it just means more. I need to look at my life and see what isn’t bearing positive fruit for me, my family, and especially for God. I know that I might have to make decisions that will be hard, but I also know those hard decisions will end up giving me more freedom than I could possibly imagine.
Learning how to say no isn’t going to be easy. To be completely honest, I have so much fear even writing this because I know my boss, my boss’ boss, and so on will read this. I fear they will read this, sit me down, and ask me what I need to say no to in order to have rest. That makes me feel weak. But I have to get that out of my head.
Needing to rest and cutting things out of my life doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong. It makes me free.
Funny thing, I had a voicemail today regarding what training session I wanted to attend for my second job that I have had for the last three years. Guess what I said? “Thanks, but I’m not coming back.” I feel amazing.
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...
What signs of being over capacity do you notice in your life? (Kacie’s signs were being short with her kids and imagining getting into a car accident.) Name as many as you can. If you’re with others, share out loud. You’ll realize you’re not alone.
What drives you to work beyond your limits? What makes it hard to say no and pull back?
What could you do to create a healthy margin? Come up with at least three ways. Most people start with reviewing your calendar for anything you can cut. Maybe you already know what to remove from your life, and you just need to rip the Band-Aid off and do it. Tell a friend so they can help you see it through.
Last, read this. Whether you’ve ever prayed before or not, try asking God for help. Simple words like, “God, help me find rest like this,” works great.
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(This stuff helps us figure out how many fruitcakes to make come December)
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