If I had a count on how many times the word should pops into my head a day, It would be up with how many steps my mother takes a day. For those of you who don’t know my mother–she takes many, many steps. [There should be some way to keep track of our thoughts the way you can track how many calories you burn a day.]
I should volunteer for that.
I should offer to do that for them.
I should say ‘yes’ to dinner. I should build a relationship with that person.
Should. Should. Should.
Confession: I like to make people happy. No, really. it’s a problem.
The first word that comes out of the mouths of most children is usually ‘no.’
I’m honestly not sure I ever knew what that word was.
I followed the rules–I’ll admit it. I was a goody goody. One of those kids who the other kids got a little annoyed with and who parents loved.
Please and Thank you. If I ever did anything I wasn’t supposed to, you better believe the Holy Spirit convicted me and 10.2 seconds later I was apologizing to my mother for sneaking a peak at my Christmas presents.
I sat in every leadership position. Editor of the newspaper. Editor of the yearbook. Student Government president. I played soccer. I played piano. I made sure that we had decorations for prom and led Bible studies in the park.
In college, a guy I worked with made the comment that he didn’t need to be there to help, “because Audrey would do it.”
And I did.
I set up chairs and made catering orders and went to luncheons with the mayor and gave speeches and planned events and baked hundreds of muffins and had girls come eat them in my apartment. I wrote devotionals for a monthly newsletter and started a club at the local nursing home and stayed up way too late late with residents counseling and loving and praying [Because I couldn’t tell them that my exam was more important than their own anxieties.]
Good grades made my teachers happy and my parents happy, so I anxiously stressed over papers and assignments. If I got a 99%, I walked out of class frustrated that I could have gotten a 100%. I was that annoying student who emailed the professor “just to check in.” You know– to make sure my grades were okay and if I was going to do okay and if my grade point average would “be okay.”
I couldn’t even deny it when Dr. Brown humorously commented one day, “You’re a nervous person, aren’t you.” Nervous is an understatement.
And at the risk of making it sound as if I’m gloating or putting myself up on a pedestal, I will tell you this.
I have a self-diagnosed disease. And it’s pleasing people. And it’s not good or healthy or holy.
And I’m beginning to realize, for maybe the first time, that trying to do everything for everyone because it feels like I should, is keeping me from doing the things God actually wants me to do. And that there is nothing holy or honoring or pleasing to God when I begrudgingly rush from task to task. To meeting to meeting. To one event to the next.
Having a full social calendar or serving in numerous capacities doesn’t make you a better person or even make you a more fun one. It usually just makes you a tired one.
I want to write a book. God gave me the idea ages ago. But I have no free time to let my mind be creative.
I want to cook more. For others. I want them to sit around my table and break bread and commune together. But I schedule every evening of every day with a social engagement.
I want to practice the discipline of prayer and quiet and meditation. But I can’t remember the last time I had a long enough chunk of time to actually calm my spirit down long enough to BE quiet.
I want to be a person someone can call if they need to talk. But I usually schedule phone conversations a few days out.
Should. Should. Should.
Two days ago, I turned 25. And for my birthday, a sweet lady I work with gave me a copy of a book, The Best Yes, that is already changing my life. The words within the covers are resonating with my weary heart in a real way.
“We girls don’t like feeling we missed out. Or messed up. Or misstepped right out of what should have been or what could have been….I struggle with feeling like I’m going to let God down” (Terkeurst, 3).
And that, in just over two sentences is the cry of my heart. I don’t want to miss out. Or mess up. Or let anyone down.
And that’s it. Right there. All wrapped up in a little over two sentences.
The fear of making people angry or letting them down or having them think less of me has rooted into so many parts of my life and heart that I am beginning to wonder what things I actually want to do. Who I actually want to be. Not who others think I should be. But really and truly who God made me to be.
Not every assignment is my assignment. I can’t end human trafficking or save every refugee or be best friends with every person in my house church. I can’t have everyone I know over for dinner in one month or go to every social gathering or take a meal to every person who isn’t feeling well.
You know why? Because every assignment isn’t my assignment. And if I try and live as if it is, then I’ll be so worn down from doing everything else that I’ll miss the opportunities God DOES intend for me to walk in. I’ll be too tired to work on that writing assignment or to pray with that friend or to trek across the state to visit with my aging grandmother.
In an effort to make everyone happy and in an effort to not miss out, I’ll actually miss out on something more spectacular. I’ll miss out on the BEST yes. The “Yes” I’m intended to say.
I recently heard someone say, “You have to say no to good things so that you can say yes to great things.”
And oh, what great things I know the father has for us. For me. And for You. What great and glorious and creative things I know he has for us. And I’m afraid I’ll miss them because i’m not bold enough to say, “no.” Or because I’m worried about what someone else might think.
“Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it. and move on without all the complication” (35).
Amen and Amen. May I learn to be bold and make my Yes the best Yes it can be.