Turning 30: Just, no. How we should (and do) say no to good things
This year, several of my friends and I turned the big 3-0 and through our coffee shop talks and musings about life in general, we all feel the same thing about being ushered into the third decade of our lives: our "no" means so much more than it ever has before. Perhaps it's because we are finally out of the emotional throws of our adolescence (or are we? haha!) and now entrusted to more adult-y things, but I know for me, I have never been busier. These lovely women featured on this blog post were sweet enough to take time out of their crazy 30's lives to answer the question for you: "how do you say no to good things?"
Jill: I find myself thinking about seasons past and wondering "how did I have time to do that?" How did I have time to walk my dog for an hour every morning at 7am? How did I have time to exercise everyday after work? How did I have time to practice my clarinet, go to rehearsals, cross stitch, watch the entire Harry Potter series in a week, read a 450 page book in under a month? On and on. I admire my neighbors that have time to sit on their porch and relax and enjoy the weather. It's really tempting to say "I didn't have as much to do back then", or "my schedule doesn't allow that", and while that may be a little bit true, I've learned that its mostly about what you MAKE time for. My husband and I have made the intentional shift in our household to stop saying "I didn't have time", but instead saying "I didn't MAKE time."
Truth is, we all have the same about of time. CEO's of Fortune 500 companies have the same amount of time as any one of us. We have to tell our time what it's doing, not the other way around. A lot of days I feel completely overwhelmed keeping up momentum in my photography business, running a thriving church as our Campus Director, and working a part time job as an office manager at a local non-profit. I get up and do dishes instead of spending time in prayer and reading my bible. I have lunches made before I even eat breakfast, if I do. And it's usually coffee and a clif bar as I'm running out the door. I share none of that for self-gratifying reasons, but to expose that sometimes I am out. of. control. with my "productivity". I MUST discipline myself to focus only on one thing at a time so my mind isn't fragmented and inattentive and so I don't feel frantic all day long. The end result is REALLY hard to get to, but REALLY worth it. I turned off notifications on my phone. I won't allow myself to check my church email before 2pm, and I spend precious free time not stuffing in more tasks, but caring for myself and my husband.
Mary: I think we've all probably been learning and unlearning and relearning how the word "no" works for years, but like Jill, it was all a little more intense for me this year. I've had to say some of the hardest noes of my life in the past few months. Some were to others, some to myself. I didn't like it. But I want my yeses and noes to matter. I want to give them fully--I love that verse where God tell us to "let your yes be yes and your no be no," to make it simple. Let your words carry their full weight, and own the decisions you make. That's amazingly freeing! Pay attention to what you value, because you say yes or no based on what's important to you, and acknowledging that helps you choose well. If you're helping someone else, they will be so much better served by your honest no than your half-hearted, half-effort yes, and then your full yeses will be even more meaningful, even when they require a lot of you. Oh and one other thing--a big part of a healthy relationship with "no," I'm realizing, is being willing to recognize that I am not the only person who can do things. In most cases, someone else can do the things I can just as well or better, and I need to just get over that feeling that if I'm not the one to do it, it will all go wrong and the world will collapse. That gets arrogant awfully fast. Let someone else have a chance!
Lauren: As a 30-year-old mom, I find that a good night of sleep or staying in would feel really great once the kids are asleep, but sometimes saying no to this in order to get some time with my friends is necessary for my mental health and spiritual reset. I can easily get distracted by my busy-ness that I lose my focus on giving God time. Being around my friends brings reminders and uplifting word that encourages me to bring my focus back on God in my situations. There are also days or nights when this can go the other direction. If my husband and I need time or if I need to be with my kids, I may need to say no to my friends so that I can form my family. For us, me saying no to a full-time job and paycheck meant that I get to stay at home and teach my children how to grow, live, love, and do all those other fun things you need to do in life. I think as I make the list, it’s really just a matter of saying no to something good only to lead to something else good, if not better.
Hannah: In my younger, single and childless days, saying no to good things never happened. I wanted to be where things were happening! I was afraid that if I said no, I would miss out on fun times or important things. In my current season of life, I have three children and a husband that need so much of myself, that saying no to good things has almost become a relief. I no longer feel I am missing out and I no longer feel the pressure of being everywhere. I view it as an opportunity to prioritize myself or my family. (I say this as I have literally just said NO to a fun gathering). Saying no, also means that when I do say yes, I’ll get to savor and enjoy those times even more. Saying no to good things has actually enriched my life. I prioritize and give full attention to where it’s needed. I no longer miss out on anything but instead, I experience good in any decision I make.
Laura: Saying no and being okay with that is something I think a lot of people struggle with. The key to it is knowing from God what to do! I’m a music teacher, and a few weeks ago I had a crazy week. I was taking students to an all day/evening choral conference, and two days after that, I was hosting County Chorus. I was in charge of bringing 200 kids to my school, feeding them, and successfully putting on a concert that evening. It’s a lot of pressure! And to top it all off, my grandma passed away a couple days before. In the midst of all this, a friend of mine asked if I’d be willing to stay with her kids while they were out of town for 3 days. I wanted to help, but I also knew that adding one more thing to do and think about would be a challenge for me, as I already felt like I was at my limit. I asked God what I should do, and He said that whatever I choose, He’ll back me up. I was free to say yes, and I was free to say no. I ended up saying no, and I’m so very glad that I did. I triumphantly got through that week (thank you Lord!), but I look back and feel thankful that I didn’t have to stretch even further to do or think about more. I sought the Lord, and He led me! There’s comfort in the freedom to say no!
My hope is that by getting a glimpse into many different 30-somethings' lives, some married, some single, some in full-time careers, some starting businesses, some with kiddos, some that live at home, and some that travel the world, you can connect with our stories and hopefully be blessed by the life lessons we've learned these past 30 years.