Several months ago, I was planning on attending a weekend women’s conference a day’s drive away from where we live. I was excited about it. I knew it would be an encouraging time for me to spend with other women and in God’s Word.
The day before the conference arrived but as I made preparations to go, my plans began to unravel. It wasn’t really one particular thing, but a culmination of a bunch of little things. Grant was going to be unexpectedly busy that weekend and I felt stressed about leaving him to care for the girls when he had lots of studying to do.
“Go to the conference,” he kept telling me, but I can read him by now and it didn’t feel right.
All day my internal struggle went on. I felt like I had committed to the conference and that I should go. I did not want to back out of a commitment. I did not want to say no. I did not want to let people down. I did not want to back out of my plan.
As I tried to put my youngest to bed that night, she kept crying for me. Her nose started running late that afternoon with a small accompanying cough. I got her semi-settled and went to run some errands to get ready to leave the next day. When I got home, she was still crying. “I tried to comfort her, but she wants you,” Grant said as I entered the house. I went into the dark room and pulled her out of her crib. Her crying immediately ceased as she snuggled into my shoulder.
She just wanted me.
As her tears ceased, my own began to fall. Grant came to check on us and I whispered to him in the dark, “I can’t go. I’m sorry. I know this was the plan. But I just can’t do it.”
“Babe, it’s okay. You don’t have to go.”
“No of course you don’t. In fact, it would be nice if you’d stay.”
Somewhere along the way, I had convinced myself that saying “no” was wrong. But as my little girl’s soft sobs began to wane, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
My children needed me. And on this particular weekend, my busy husband needed me to stay too, even though he didn’t want to ask.
As I rocked my little girl quietly in the dark, my soul finely found rest. Why had I been ignoring all day what the Lord had clearly been showing me?
God began to impress on my heart that I should never forget the importance of the task He has called me to. That means that there are times when my children simply need me. No one smells the way I do. No one rocks the way I do. No one sings the way I do. No one strokes their cheeks the way I do.
I am their strong footing. I am their solid ground. I am their stability.
And not just that, there are times when my husband needs me too. I need to be sensitive to the load he is carrying and be willing to drop everything to help him, even when he is too kind to ask. That’s part of what it means to love him. I need to care if he has clean socks and shirts ironed and meals on the table. There are days when that may not happen, but those things do matter. I don’t need to be overcommitted, I need to be there for him.
That’s a hard line to draw, it just is. I don’t always know where to draw it but I am learning that when I need to draw it, I don’t need to feel bad about it.
This doesn’t just apply to the married woman either, but the single woman too. Often, the unmarried woman is asked to do even more things simply because she does not have the commitment of a family. But if the single woman is busy serving her church and building into the lives of those around her, there will be times where she will need to say “no” for her own spiritual and physical health.
No I can’t bake those cookies for the bake sale this weekend.
No I can’t make it to the baby shower.
No I won’t be able to babysit.
No I won’t be able to host the party.
And when we say no because it’s the right thing to do (not for selfish reasons), we find relief from unnecessary stress. We find freedom to truly focus on the tasks God has called us to be faithful to.
My dad gave my brothers and I some very wise advice growing up that has always stuck with me, “A need doesn’t constitute a call.”
There have been many times where I’ve wanted to fill needs that God simply has not given me the resources or time to fill. I am learning how to graciously say no with confidence knowing that when I do, what I am really saying is yes.
Yes to the things He has called me to in my particular season of life.
Yes to the love of my life and to the little people who need me each and every day.
And that’s not something I should ever feel bad about.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1