Learning to Say No When You Want to Say Yes

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes, I would love to help you out. Yes, I will pet sit for you while you are on vacation. Yes, I will give you the shirt off my back. Yes, I will be all things to all people.

Because yes feels good. Yes makes me feel like a better person. Yes makes people like me.

At least this used to be true.

But then they weren't. Then saying yes didn't feel so good. Suddenly people started making comments, jokes even, about how much I say yes. I never thought about my saying yes as a problem. I always thought everyone liked that I said yes. All my yes(es) started to weigh on me. They started to make me wonder if this is really what God wants for me. 

I think there are different personality types when it comes to "yes" and "no." None of these are scientifically proven. Just my opinion. First, you have people like me who say yes to everything. Yes to this. Yes to that. Yes to everything. Second, you have people who say no to everything. And third of all, you have people who say maybe and are just flaky enough to never commit to a yes or a no.

But there's also a fourth personality type that I feel is largely lacking all around me. I want to be a best yes person. Thank you, Lysa Terkeurst, for the term/concept. {If you haven't read her book, The Best Yes, you must read it ASAP.} I want to find a balance, and I want to honor God with my yes and my no.

No makes me feel unfriendly, unloving, uncaring, and unkind. No makes me feel guilty. Being someone who feels the need to always say yes, this is incredibly difficult for me. I genuinely have never learned the ability to discern the difference between a yes, a best yes, and a no. It can be such a gray area which has to be taken directly to the Lord.

Maybe you're thinking what's so wrong with saying yes? There's nothing inherently wrong with it, but as I've grown up and began these oh so interesting adult years, I'm learning some valuable lessons about how saying yes can actually be harmful.

1. Burnout. When I say yes to everything, I leave no time or space for myself to recharge, to spend with the Lord, to do things that line up with my passions, gifts, and talents. Burnout makes me less effective for the kingdom and it makes it all the harder to keep going through difficult times.

2. Sin. Yep, you read that right. Please excuse this terrible illustration but yes for me is almost like a gateway drug. It feels so good to be somebody's person, somebody's yes. I want to save the day. Saving the day feels good. Saving the day makes me a hero. But all those yes(es) done "in the name of Jesus" quickly turn south. Burnout leads to bitterness, anger, bad attitude, lying, etc. Saying yes is not a sin, but in abundance leads to an abundance of sin that hides itself away in my heart. And what do we all know about the heart? Luke 6:45 says "For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." And Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (NIV).

3. Uselessness. I can no longer be a servant of the Lord when I am actively living in sin and failing to prioritize my daily quiet time, my friends, and my family. When I say yes to everybody, I lose my identity. I become useless. I'm doing things out of obligation to people and not obedience to God. I am so overloaded with the wrong yes that I am useless to do the best yes God has for me.

Yes is my default. This is who I am, but it is not who God has called me to be. Just because this is my nature does not mean that it is God's best for me. God challenges us, tests us, and pushes us. He knows us inside and out, up and down. Yes has served me well over the years. God used my yes personality to shape me into the woman I am today. He used it to break me out of my introvert shell, try new things, go on adventures, travel to foreign lands, and experience life to the fullest.

But now, God is teaching me that saying no does not change who I am. Saying no is a valuable tool that He has given me and wants to teach me how to use now according to his direction and will. There are so many good things. Good, Christian, Godly things I can do. But the question I have to ask myself is whether or not this is what God has for me. This is a process. One I will  not figure out overnight, but it's one that is going to be a pruning and refining process to draw me closer to God and to be more in sync with his will.

I want to give God my best yes and my best no. Anybody else out there need to surrender their yes or no personality to God? Or submit your yes and no to God's yes and no?

Abba, Father, use this season. Use this struggle. Teach my heart to stand firm on the yes and no that you have given me the ability to say equally. Give me discernment to differentiate between a best yes and a no. Show me how to say no with grace and without guilt. Lead me to surrender my people-pleasing ways to a higher calling of glorifying you and you alone. Pour over, in, and through me the peace to keep trusting your plan over mine. Grant me wisdom to know your yes and your no for each circumstance. Open my eyes to see you in the midst of it all. I lay down my yes and my no for your glory, honor, and praise.