About a year ago, I sat on my back porch and read a sentence from a book that completely changed the way I make decisions. I know that sounds a little bit melodramatic [and confession: sometimes I am!] but in this case—it’s true!
I sat in the shade on a warm summer day. It was humid and sticky, and I was tired. And when I say tired, I mean really tired.
Strange things were happening to my body. I would sleep ten hours a night and still feel exhausted. I was struggling with chronic anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. My emotions were like a roller coaster, and my adrenal glands [the part of our body that is vital to producing healthy stress hormones and cortisol] were shot. Some days, the anxiety in my chest was so strong that I wanted to crawl under my desk and cry.
Meanwhile, I was trying to live the way I had for years. From age sixteen to twenty six, I had been a female version of “Yes Man.” I could say no to almost literally no one. I wanted to make everyone happy—the smiling, hugging, homecoming queen who wanted to be everyone’s best friend. My calendar had no margin. I would grab coffee with people before work. And after work. And then sometimes go hang out with someone AFTER that.
I had no margin. No alone time. No room to create a healthy, restful life.
And then I read this line from Lisa Terkeurst’s book, The Best Yes.
Not every assignment is your assignment.
Not every opportunity or relationship is healthy for me. Woah. Wait. What? I had no context for this way of thinking. For years, I had been building my identity around what I did and who I was to other people. I loved walking into a room and knowing I had some sort of intimate relationship with numerous different people. It validated me and affirmed me. It fueled my purpose.
But it wasn’t sustainable. And after walking through months of health issues, and reading another great book, I came up with addendum to this life changing line.
Not every assignment is my assignment: AND not everyone can be on my home team.
We all have to have a “home team”—those individuals that we will drop anything for. The ones we make consistent time for in a busy, hectic schedule. The ones we call when we are really in pain. The ones we share the vulnerable parts of our heart with.
I had put too many people on my home team. And it became detrimental to every aspect of my life. Because the reality is, we don’t have the capacity to be friends with everyone. At least not all of the time.
To an extroverted people pleaser who genuinely loves people, it sounded harsh. It felt harsh.
What do you mean I can’t be friends with everyone? That’s mean! And sad! And… unnecessary? But it was necessary.
I spent a good two months feeling guilty for saying no to coffee dates or late night hang outs. I started feeling bad when people would make remarks like, “I haven’t seen you in forever,” or “I don’t know what’s going on in your life.”
But then I realized that I cannot be all things to all people. I am not responsible for the emotions of others. And I only have so much time in a week. I created a rule for myself. If they weren’t on my home team, I had to unapologetically and kindly decline. I scheduled out my time. I left margin for unexpected ways to serve and truly life-giving opportunities. To have coffee with women who were struggling in the same ways. I left room to go home and do nothing. Or do the simple, everyday somethings like dishes or laundry or exercise. I learned to sit in silence and to be alone and to listen for the voice of God.
I scheduled life around my best Yes and my home team. And the world didn’t stop spinning.
And I’ve found that as a result, my relationships have deepened and my body is healing. I’ve realized that it’s realistic to talk to some people every few weeks or months. That it’s okay to catch up in other ways.
That it’s okay to breathe.
I feel freedom to live out the calling God has for me. I feel healthier and stronger. And I feel this bubbling passion to encourage that same freedom in others. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or tired. Or having trouble saying no. Maybe you’re over committed and you don’t even realize it!
If you’re feeling that way and you were sitting across from me at a coffee shop, I’d tell you this: Take a step back. Unplug for a few days. Think about what’s important. Think about what your BEST YES is. What is your assignment? The thing you feel passionate about—the thing you love to do? Who are your people? Make a list. And have grace for yourself as you practice saying no.
Be kind to yourself by taking care of your body, spirit, and mind. God did not create us to be one hundred percent available to everyone.
That’s his job.