by Lisa Jordan
My grandparents owned a dairy farm. When my siblings and I were younger, we’d play in the barn with our large extended family. My cousin, who was a year older and my closest friend at the time, used to convince me to follow her across the barn beams suspended above the hayloft.
We’d practice our gymnastics routines, even though neither of us had any training. As we stood above our adoring audience of barn cats, we’d extend our arms and put one foot in front of the other to make our way across the rough-cut beams. Despite our stupidity, God’s angels shrouded us in safety.
Balance was the key to moving forward without tumbling to the hay-scattered wooden floor about thirty feet below.
The same goes for our daily living.
The Necessity of Clearing Your Plate
The week I’d received “the call” in January 2011, a friend shared a quote that made me rethink my daily responsibilities, and it prompted me to make some changes in my life. I could hear God whispering He had something more in store for me, but my plate was so full already.
After releasing some additional responsibilities and clearing space on my plate, my agent called two days later with a contract offer for my debut novel.
The Struggle of Finding Balance
Finding balance in our everyday lives can be a constant struggle, especially when we have many responsibilities such as family, work, church, and trying to have some sort of social calendar while striving to achieve our dreams.
When I continue juggling work with meeting writing deadlines, caring for my family, being active in my church, and making time for friends, two things keep me somewhat focused—learning to say no and taking time for myself.
Letting go and getting rest is a constant struggle, especially during those busy seasons in our lives.
I’m a reforming people pleaser—I still have my moments. I’ve said yes to a lot of things because, well, I wanted to make others happy even though those choices created inner turmoil. I thought I was supposed to use my abilities for others. That’s good, right? Not so much if I was headed toward burnout.
What Can You Accomplish By Saying No?
Saying no can be a challenge, especially if you’re afraid of letting someone down or feel guilted into shouldering a new responsibility. But the thing is you need to let go to ensure you’re getting the rest you need.
Saying no reduces your stress by releasing time-consuming responsibilities you may not enjoy. By saying no, you’re allowing someone else to be blessed by taking over that role. You don’t have to say no to everything, but say no to things that steal time away from pursuing your goals.
Before planes take off, flight attendants instruct passengers on safety features in the event of a crash. They instruct them to don the oxygen masks before helping others. The first time I heard that, I thought it was selfish until I realized we can’t care for those around us if we aren’t caring for ourselves.
This means getting enough sleep, eating right and perhaps even exercise. Yes, I heard those groans. I’ve mumbled them on many occasions.
Also, no matter how full your calendar may be, you need to schedule in downtime to relax and refresh your spirit and creativity. If you’re on the go from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning until you fall into bed at night, then you’re going to be too worn to care for yourself, let alone anyone else.
Letting go and getting rest may seem difficult at first, but once you put it into practice, you’ll be on your way to finding that balance to keep from falling off the beam.
What about you? What is your greatest struggle in letting go and getting rest? What can you do to help free up time in your schedule to refresh your spirit?
Bio: Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Cynthia Ruchti of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Her latest book, A Love Redeemed, released in September 2020. She is the operations manager for Novel Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for over thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and being creative with words, fibers, and photos. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com
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Hi Jeanne. I lead a Bible study at work and all the material is home grown, so that keeps me pretty busy. As this year wore on, I had the thought (God planted the thought) to take about 6 weeks off and let other members lead. I scheduled them all and we had a great summer potluck of fresh perspectives, and I had a much-needed break.
I love that God gave you the idea to let others step up and lead. That must have been mutually beneficial!
I love to say the wisdom is in the balance. Balance looks different for each of us so we’d do well to seek wisdom as we work on finding balance so we can move ahead.
Thanks for this insightful post.
Nylse, please forgive the delayed response. I believe you’re right. Wisdom comes in the balancing of all the things in our lives. Sometimes, I think finding balance is tough, but when we’re aware of where we spend our time, and we bring that before the Lord, I think God helps us see what balance and wisdom need to look like for us individually.
Excellent message! As an Empty Nester, it is easy to fall in the trap of saying “yes” just to fill the empty spaces or because you feel this is what Empty Nesters do. I’ve learned to fill my empty spaces with God appointed assignments. At times, His assignment is for me to sit in silence. Other times, it is to serve or rest. Either way, where He calls I follow.
Maria, I would imagine, as an empty nester, it could be really easy to say too many yeses. I like that you are learning to fill your empty spaces with God-appointed assignments. thanks for sharing this perspective! Have a beautiful Thanksgiving!
this has been a season of plate-clearing, yes. and while most all of us are concerned about the pandemic, more than a few of us are sighing inner sighs of relief because we’re running around less, fussing less, more at peace in being quiet at home.
thank you, Lord, for whispering quietly in our homebound hours …
Linda . . . plate-clearing. Yes, I’ve done some of that too. In some ways, I feel like I’m doing less, but having my sons home full-time adds a different kind of challenge to having balance. I’m so glad you are finding room to breathe and be still. I hope your Thanksgiving is a special one!
I tend to say yes to help out others more than usual lately. I said yes to an ‘interim’ treasurer (volunteer) position recently to help out, and it has been a lot more work than expected! Praying an official treasurer comes forth soon! So true, balance does go haywire when we are pulled in too many directions from our yeses.
Lynn, I tend to say yes to help out others too. And, like you, some of those yeses led to a lot more work than I anticipated. I hope (and I’ll pray) a new treasurer comes forth soon.
I like your ideas for balance!
Lauren, balance can be such a challenging thing to implement in our lives, can’t it? I’m glad you found Lisa’s tips helpful! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Lisa, I’m trying to say yes to more fun which means saying no to the drive to do one more thing. Beautiful photos.
Deb, I really like your idea of saying yes to more fun and no to stressing to get my to-do’s done. Thanks for sharing this perspective. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving!
Lisa, your words remind me of a season in my life when my motto was “only do what only you can do.” I said no to a lot back then, but it was necessary for my own health and my family’s too. The idea that saying no can enable someone else to be blessed by saying yes also is powerful. (And I’m so glad you didn’t break your neck playing balance beam in the barn when you were growing up!) Jeanne, you’ve outdone yourself with these photos … gorgeous! Happy Thanksgiving to you both!
Lois, that is such a good life motto. I haven’t put that into words, but over the past few years, with all that’s gone on, I think I’ve kind of been living that. Isn’t amazing how, when God prompts us to say no, He already has ours (and another person’s) next steps lined up? Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, my friend!
When I pause and let go, my mind and my soul find peace. 🙂
I love the simplicity and the beauty of your words, Melissa!
It’s interesting that you mention a phone call Lisa, I also received one this week but a different type.
My post this week, Receiving that phone call we all dread!
Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer! May God strengthen you in this time.
Lisa thank you for your wise words! People pleasing is a tough one, and hard to keep a balance. Saying “no” is a real problem for this over achiever. But your practical advice is a stimulus for me to make some changes!
Donna, people-pleasing is a tough one! I’ve struggled with it for most of my life. Saying no can be hard. May God show you clearly those changes He wants you to make. Have a great Thanksgiving!
The story of you and your cousin walking on beams 30 feet off the barn floor is hair-raising! 🙂 Like you, I struggle with saying no. I volunteer for Meals on Wheels now and one of the leaders is pressuring me to take on a bigger role. I am resisting, but it’s difficult for me to come right out with a definite no. Ugh!
Laurie, apparently we weren’t too bright. I was so chicken to do it, but I didn’t want to look like a chicken so I said yes even though I should have been brave enough to say no. I understand the struggle–give it up to God and when you feel a peace about your response, then you will have the right answer. Happy Thanksgiving.
Thank you for the reminder to let go and rest. In this hustle-and-bustle age, where doing more is always possible. I need this reminder often.
Jed and Jan, you’re right–it’s always possible to do more and it seems like there’s always more to do, but that’s not necessarily what God wants for us. Sometimes, we need to slow down, say no to our busyness, and say yes to basking in God’s restful embrace. Happy Thanksgiving.
You really cannot take much more;
take God’s hand, please…let go!”
Thus my loved ones do implore,
but my answer still is No.
I’ll fight this b*****d cancer;
what cost? I do not care.
Rage shall be my answer,
and hate shall be my prayer.
They tell me that I cannot win,
pride goes before the fall,
but if pride’s indeed a sin,
I’m the most badass of all,
and when I beat the ‘fatal’ rap,
even God will doff His cap.
Andrew, you are walking through a very difficult season. I love the way you use your gift of writing to express yourself. Happy Thanksgiving.
Beautiful pictures. And wise advice. As a reforming people pleaser, it took years to realize I didn’t have to help everyone just because I could. If I say yes, out of guilt and then feel regret, that was a not a freely given yes. It is not good for me, and the other person does not want me resentful while helping them.
Theresa, Jeanne is a gifted photographer, isn’t she? I’ve learned that saying yes is important when I feel God is calling me to do certain things. I’m involved in ministries in my church where I know I’m supposed to be. Then there are different ones I’ve had to decline because they didn’t align with my calling or my areas of gifting. Happy Thanksgiving.
Hi LIsa! I am also a reforming people-pleaser. It’s a daily lesson because saying “yes” seems to be my default. I love how you describe the power of “no”. It’s not a bad thing but it’s easy to believe that “yes” is always better.
Mary, you’re so right about it being a daily lesson. I’ve had to say no to things I’ve really wanted to do because saying yes would have resulted in less time for the areas where God has called me. Keep practicing and God will open doors He wants you to walk through. Happy Thanksgiving.
God has been showing me so much about rest these last few months, and it hasn’t looked how I thought it would! But it’s been necessary and good for my soul and my family!
Rebecca, when I started being intentional about rest, I found I had more time to get things done instead of less time because I felt more focused and well, rested. 🙂 Rest isn’t an indulgence. It’s one of God’s commandments because He knows how much we need it. Happy Thanksgiving.
Lisa, you offer fresh and wise insight. Love your words here, “Saying no reduces your stress by releasing time-consuming responsibilities you may not enjoy. By saying no, you’re allowing someone else to be blessed by taking over that role.” My husband was a youth pastor, then a lead pastor for 18 years until earlier this year. I used to think a good pastor’s wife always said “yes” to ministry and other opportunities. Later, I looked back on those times and realized how crazy my thinking was and my life. 🙂 The Lord intended to place others in some of those tasks so they could bless others and be blessed.
Karen, some of my closest friends are pastors’ wives and I see how others have put them into this obligatory role, even if those expectations didn’t fit in with that person’s gifts and talents. As God calls us, He will equip us for those areas where he wants us to serve. And serving can be for a season–it’s not a lifetime commitment. (That’s something else I had to learn.) Happy Thanksgiving.
Ugh, I agree that saying no can be such a challenge. Even saying no to myself! My to-do list can be a brutal taskmaster but occasionally it needs to be told no. I have scheduled in a lot of downtime this week though. Tomorrow is my birthday and I want to keep it wide open. 🙂
Happy early birthday, Lisa! I’ve had to restructure my to-do list so it works for me and not against me. (That’s a whole different blog post. 🙂 ) Being purposeful about our downtime helps us to prepare and appreciate the rest we’ve factored into our busy schedules. Happy Thanksgiving.
Great post Lisa, I’ve had to learn all about the fine art of balance this year…I’m still learning. Saying no can be hard and not just to people. I often want to do everything (sigh). Thank you for this perspective – “By saying no, you’re allowing someone else to be blessed by taking over that role”.
Wemi, I think finding that balance is an ongoing process. We go through different seasons in our lives when we are battered with different types of yes opportunities, but if we keep our focus where God wants us to be, He will guide our paths. Happy Thanksgiving.
Ohh! I’m part of that club, too! I’ve learned to find rest every Sabbath, and to use exercise (walks on our 1.4 mile loop on campus) for mini-restoration sessions. Birding also provides restful activity—especially if I snag a great photo of a bird, too!
Anita, I love your thoughts. Making rest and the Sabbath intentional does bring peace to our spirits. Seeking and enjoying God’s creation restores my soul. Happy Thanksgiving!
One thing that helps me say no is the realization that, if I really feel it’s not God’s will for me to do a thing, then it IS His will for someone else to do it. By saying no, I’m leaving the door open for the right person. We can go too far the other way and feel anyone else could do a thing better, so we should never say yes, but that’s wrong, too. None of us will do anything perfectly, but if we’re where God wants us, He will use each of us for His glory.
Barbara, thank you for sharing your insight. And I agree–saying no opens the door for someone else’s yes…and that could be God calling us to say yes elsewhere. Happy Thanksgiving.
I’m also a member of “people-pleasers anonymous.” It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to please so many, you neglect to do any good for yourself. We’re useless if we keep pouring out without being poured into. Thank you for a tangible reminder this am!
Lisa, thanks for this bit of hard won wisdom. We are coming into the season of crazy, and I want to make good choices!
Michele, if we can succeed in tamping down some of those people-pleasing tendencies in the midst of our busiest seasons, then we can use those same strategies throughout the year. Happy Thanksgiving!
Bev, you’re right–it is easy to get caught up in pleasing others. When we focus on pleasing God, then everything else will fall into place. Happy Thanksgiving!