yes or no? (circle one)

I’m feeling conflicted. This is not an unfamiliar emotion for me. It’s uncomfortable, sure, but so, so much a normal part of my life.

I wish it wasn’t.

I’m going to try to explain the dilemma our family is facing without giving (very many) specifics, because I don’t want anyone to feel bad (inside our family or out). I realize this will leave some real-life friend-readers thinking/worrying, “Is she talking about me?!?”

No, I’m not.

Here’s the scoop: our family is invited to partake in many things. 

There are several reasons for this. Here are five:

1.) We know a lot of people.

2.) We have unconventional schedules that allow us to be available when others aren’t.

3.) People are kind to include us in the things they do.

4.) We collectively possess a variety of in-demand skills: writing, speaking, website-building, photography, babysitting, canvas-painting, etc.

5.) We are somewhat fun to be around (on our good days).

Here’s the dilemma: We can not agree on/figure out which things to say yes to and which things to say no to.

(If you haven’t figured this out already, I am writing this post as a free therapy/counseling session with myself. I hope to have answers by the time I get to the end.)

Here are some of our quandaries:

1.) We know that parents have more say than kids, but we don’t want to be the kind of parents that give their kids no voice.

2.) We see the value in doing things you don’t want to do. (But do those things you don’t want to do have value? Or are we just trying to make a point?)

3.) Life is not all about me (or you) and what makes me (or you) happy. But, at what point do you say, “It’s time to pursue this dream I have, not just do all the things that make other people happy.”

4.) What do you do when one child is particularly gifted at several things her siblings aren’t, and she resents having to do them while her sisters get off scot-free?

5.) What do you do when the thing your kids don’t want to do is actually pretty pointless (in your mind, anyway) and the thing they want to do is to stay at their apartment complex and build relationships with their Muslim African refugee friends?

6.) How can you tell the difference between being selfish and protecting yourself from burnout?

7.) When do you let others’ opinions of you impact what you do, and when do you shrug it off and say, “I’m sorry they’re going to think this about me, but I can’t help that,” and move on?

I guess what I’m asking is this: Do any of you have any tried and true formulas for what you say yes and no to (either as a family unit or as an individual)?

(I know what I should be doing. Praying about this and asking God for his divine, perfect wisdom. And I have been, believe me. But I also wanted to blog about it, because boom! another April blog post in the books.)

11 thoughts on “yes or no? (circle one)

  1. jess the mess

    yo. 🙂
    I know EXACTLY where you are coming from. And in the recent past years, I’ve created a sort of filter through which I screen all possible things. Here’s what I would do if I were in your shoes. (the numbers don’t correspond w/ your numbers btw!)

    1.readily partake in things that are within your God-given-talents and strengths; and don’t partake in things that are not–let others, who have those gifts and talents take care of it. (here’s an example of when not to partake: I was stressing out for months/years about welcoming, greeting, introducing, being-the-first-to-talk-to every single visitor at church. I am a wallflower, not the life of the party. This is not my strength. there are zillions of other people that are good at that. So I stopped stressing about it, and i don’t IGNORE visitors…however, i don’t make it my life mission to make sure I greet everysinglevisitor on their first day @ church)

    2. Be okay w/ saying no. (I think you’ve read the book Boundaries, right? read it again!!!!) If others get the wrong impression of your intentions, that’s on them, not you.

    3. Realize that everything happens in seasons, and right now might or might not be the season for certain things. But that doesn’t mean they’ll NEVER happen. Just not right now.

    4. Don’t overthink it! Overthinking makes it harder.

    5. If you’re caught between 2 choices and neither choice is right or wrong, just go w/ your gut.

    6. Read the book “How Am I Smart” by Kathy Koch. I just read it and it’s my current go-to for solving all of the problems of the world (haha! joking…but i do find myself recommending it a lot lately)…it’s SUPER insightful. Very simple and uncomplicated, but eye-opening. It might help you with quandary of the girls and their strengths and weaknesses.

    I hope that helps. 🙂 It makes sense in my head.
    love ya!

  2. Rachelle M

    I’m so happy to see another Rachelle commenter!
    I have zero answers. I do things I don’t want to do and what I should do I don’t do! I think I just paraphrased Paul!
    I make decisions based on prayer and my gut. I mostly try to say no. I say yes when its important to my life long term, even considering things like happy memories for my kids. I will disappoint people but I try to do it gently when possible.
    when you figure this out please share!

  3. Sharon

    I can definitely relate to the struggle of what to say yes to and what to say no to. Quite honestly though, I do kind of have a feeling in my gut usually as to what I should answer. I understand not wanting to hurt people’s feelings or have them get mad at you. I understand it all too well. Somehow (honestly not sure how) I’ve finally come to the realization that if someone is going to react negatively just because I say no to something, I can’t really afford to let that bother me. That is their problem.

    I just recently was asked (for the second time) to be on the Leadership of a program at my Church that I am sooooo in love with. Truly think it’s great, I’ve been a part of it for a while now and quite honestly I’d love to be on leadership. But…….I didn’t have peace about it. I was excited at the idea, thought it would be a good fit for me in some ways, but just didn’t have peace. Because, I’ve not been totally available to my family for the past year due to health issues. So, the thought of taking more time (and energy) away from them to do this other thing that was optional just didn’t seem right.

    What sealed the deal for me (to say no again) was when I heard someone speaking on priorities. She said 1) God 2) Family 3) Church. As soon as I heard that, I thought, “Okay, I get it Lord.” And I declined the offer.

    Another example was Christmas the year before last. I was very pregnant, feeling miserable (had back to back colds for 1 month) and had some other stuff going on that we didn’t have any idea what it was at the time. We always, always, always spend Christmas at my brother’s house and one year when my Sister and her new husband decided they wanted to start their own family tradition and spend it at home, well, yikes! You would not imagine the nasty emails flying back and forth. It was unreal.

    Anyways, in the end, I decided that we just could not make the trip to spend Christmas at my brothers. It was a sad decision to make, but one I just knew was right. Thankfully, no one gave me any flak about it (no idea if anything was said behind my back though…..) and in the end if they had said something to me it would’ve been kind of funny. Because we later found out that the reason I was feeling so terrible is because I have Cancer. So, um, I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s a pretty good reason to not be out gallivanting around when you feel terrible and actually have something serious going on.

    Not to mention, that I was terrified I was going to go into labor early as I had with my first and Christmas was only a week before my due date. So, I had some reasons to say no, but the problem is that some of my family will do anything/everything they are asked to and I think they don’t understand why others won’t do the same. For me, I just don’t think being exhausted (and wearing my kids out) all the time is worth it.

  4. Cheryl Pickett

    Can’t say there is a tried and true answer as so much of this is subjective. I agree with/will echo some of what has been said.

    If one of the girls is often called on to use a particular skill, but she isn’t enjoying it, it’s no different than if you are being asked to write for free or for Gabe to take on a project just because he is good at it without benefit or reward or at least enjoyment. Are there times when we donate our skills and talents? Absolutely, but if she is old enough to do the work, she is also old enough to feel taken advantage of and that’s not good, child or not. Discuss together what she feels and work out something that is agreeable all around whenever possible.

    No, you don’t want to be a parent where kids have no voice, but you also are always the parent. There is also no way to know that when you put your foot down and over rule that it’s the best decision. You may have to apologize later for being wrong, but that doesn’t mean everything is a democracy.

    As far as the saying no/being selfish thing, self care and protecting ones’ sanity is not the same as selfish. As someone else mentioned, there is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve your family peace and sanity as well as your own. When your attitude is-mine, mine, mine, I won’t share- that’s selfish. When your attitude is there have to be priorities, that is working toward being sane and balanced.

    What if you look at choosing tasks much like you do purging physical things? Not everything is equally important. What is necessary, what do you enjoy/believe truly is serving? What is extraneous or an unrealistic expectation of someone else? Should you be beholden to those kinds of things? No, not your problem really if those kinds of choices upset people if you are genuinely being reasonable in your decision.

    You will not please everyone all of the time, just ain’t gonna happen. So who do you please? God, yourself, your family, groups you have committed to. Are some people going to take issue with you/judge you unfairly if you make different choices than they’d want? Most likely. When should you care? If it upsets a family or church or other significant group dynamic, it may need further discussion, but it doesn’t mean you are always the party who has to compromise. Sometimes, sure, but not always. You move on when you are comfortable with your decision, you have worked things out as best you can with good intentions. If someone else reacts negatively, you cannot control that. Again, you can try to discuss and work things out, but you cannot think differently for them nor can you let their issues run your life.
    Hope this helps.

    1. Amanda

      Cheryl, I love the idea of looking at saying yes or no to a commitment the same I would keeping or getting rid of something physical! That had never occurred to me, but is very accurate and super helpful! Thank you!

  5. Christine Lee Smith

    I try and consider what Jesus may be inviting me to — given my circumstances and current commitments — keeping in mind that Jesus doesn’t use guilt or passive aggressive techniques, and doesn’t tell me I “should” do this or that. He invites me with opportunities and conviction, not manipulation. I also ask: does saying yes to this draw me closer to him or pull me away? If saying yes over-extends me and limits me from spending time with him then it’s a no. I’ll say, as I’ve used this type of discernment I’ve been often surprised by what I find myself saying yes and no to. A lot of good opportunities get turned down, but it’s made way for great opportunities to love the world in the unique way Jesus created me to.

  6. Addie

    As I said, Im an “all or nothing” type person, so Im going to tackle each one of these…

    1.) We know that parents have more say than kids, but we don’t want to be the kind of parents that give their kids no voice.
    – your kids are part of the family, they should definitely have a voice, especially if its a family decision, but you, as the parents, do have the advantage of wisdom and experience, so you definitely should find a healthy compromise (and that’s a hard question to ask without specifics)

    2.) We see the value in doing things you don’t want to do. (But do those things you don’t want to do have value? Or are we just trying to make a point?)
    – depends on what it is… if its helping someone else who truly needs help, then do it… but sometimes if its not your gift that is being asked from you, you saying no, gives someone else with that gift to shine…. God said we were all different members – and the body cant function with one member doing everything

    3.) Life is not all about me (or you) and what makes me (or you) happy. But, at what point do you say, “It’s time to pursue this dream I have, not just do all the things that make other people happy.”
    – you should make a 5 year plan and then anywhere you can fit it into your schedule, make decisions that will put you closer to that dream (without doing harm to anyone)… there are very few things you should do just because it makes someone else happy (especially if they can do it themselves)

    4.) What do you do when one child is particularly gifted at several things her siblings aren’t, and she resents having to do them while her sisters get off scot-free?
    – this is the question that got me – if she is truly “gifted” at it, then she would enjoy doing it and not care that anyone else gets to do it, sounds more like she is talented and it will soon become a burden more than a talent if she is forced into servitude b/c she happens to be good at something… can she help teach her sisters to do it or help that way they could all work together?

    5.) What do you do when the thing your kids don’t want to do is actually pretty pointless (in your mind, anyway) and the thing they want to do is to stay at their apartment complex and build relationships with their Muslim African refugee friends?
    -if its pointless, then why do it – that’s a waste of time and energy that could be spent on much more useful things… but really make sure its pointless and not just that you don’t want to do it

    6.) How can you tell the difference between being selfish and protecting yourself from burnout?
    – being selfish is keeping more than you need… if you need time and quiet, then its not selfish to say no to other projects/people…

    7.) When do you let others’ opinions of you impact what you do, and when do you shrug it off and say, “I’m sorry they’re going to think this about me, but I can’t help that,” and move on?
    – I really don’t care what other people think of me at all… as long as God is happy, I am happy, my husband is happy and my kids are happy, and no one is getting hurt, then I don’t care (I have a side shave and bright fire engine red hair, and I let my seven year old daughter have a blue streak in her hair when its summer and out of school – who cares what people think – God is ok, Im ok, its ok)… too much of life is wasted on what other people think – make God happy first and the rest will be ok

  7. Rachelle

    I probably don’t have this problem as often as you but as a fellow writer and a seamstress I have my fair share of things I have to turn down. I don’t know that my formula is a one size fits all but here you go. I have 2 girls (2&4), a husband who struggles with chronic pain and sometimes works upto 60 hour weeks. So I first ask “Will my participation in this further God’s kingdom? ” Now I realize this is a very broad question because God can use the most insignificant actions for his glory. So I follow it up by looking at family schedule and conditions. “Will my saying yes to this be at the detriment of my family? ” “Am I saying yes for myself? ” In other words do I seek the pride, honor or gratitude or is it really to serve. And I mix in a lot of prayer, counsel with my dear husband and let simmer. I hope this helps!

  8. carey

    I think your family’s dilemma is one felt by many. How do you know what is a good time investment, etc? I can’t say they are tried & true, but this is what’s currently working for us:
    1. As far as friends & family – We almost always agree to family events. I want my kids to have an appreciation & an understanding of how important family is. I think friend events are trickier. Is the friend’s love language quality time? In that case, sometimes a sacrifice of your time might be necessary. I have some friends I try to figure out a way to say yes to, no matter what else is going on, because spending time with them invigorates me & fills me up.

    2. You know I’m a pretty big fan of Isaiah 58 10-11. “f you get rid of unfair practices,
    quit blaming victims,
    quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
    If you are generous with the hungry
    and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
    Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
    your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
    I will always show you where to go.
    I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
    firm muscles, strong bones.
    You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
    a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
    You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
    rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
    You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
    restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
    make the community livable again.”
    Filtering decisions & commitments through those verses makes some decisions easier. It helps me not to be resentful or bitter about the hard yeses.

  9. Tina

    I too, struggle with this, but mine is more of actually choosing to “hide” behind what I call myself, an introvert. So, I’m the opposite, choosing to decline invitations because of my fear of people and large events. I wounder if that actually hurts my daughter in making friendships and creating her own community. That balance is really hard to figure out and also wanting to honor myself and honor my daughter’s self.

    This? “I know what I should be doing. Praying about this and asking God for his divine, perfect wisdom.” I know you do it, like I have been, however, I also believe that God made community for just these types of situations, to bounce ideas around and to find help in our struggles. Much love to you all. <3

  10. Avily Jerome

    I don’t have a tried and true method. I get guilt-tripped very easily, and feel bad if I don’t attend every birthday party my kids are invited to or help with every project at church, etc. My kids are younger, so there’s not a lot they do that they don’t want to, but as for me, if I find myself dreading the thought of doing something, going somewhere, or participating in something, I take that as a sign that it’s not something I want to expend my limited energy on and find an excuse not to participate.
    As for the daughter who gets stuck with the bulk of the work simply because she’s better at it, is there a way to compensate her for it? Rewards of some kind for her effort, so she’s being blessed for her contribution rather than feeling like her giftedness is a punishment?

Leave a Reply to Sharon Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *