Last Fall, I had a conversation with my soul friend, Jennifer. I told her how lost I felt. She said, “That’s interesting, because when we talk about Jesus, we talk about being found.”
This simple comment made a profound impact. I began to think about being found in Christ. I had spent the last few years pursuing Christ. Reading my Bible. Reading books. Volunteering for church. Writing my gratitude list. Keeping up with prayers. “Do”ing many good things. “Do”ing the things “good” Christians “do”. I was involved. I was trying. I was busy. And for a time, that was exactly what I needed. But, truthfully, these days, I was zapped. Zapped of energy. Zapped of enthusiasm. And not feeling “found” at all.
Being “found” in Christ stayed with me. I wondered about it.
I pondered it. I listened.
I began to consider the many wonderful options in life. Options which arise on our path daily. These choices ask us to respond and choose. We are requested to give money to good causes. We are invited to volunteer for different valid organizations. We are asked to dinners and small groups and parties. And this is only the beginning. How do we choose? How do we give ourselves permission to say “no” without impending guilt?
At this low point, this “lost” place, I realized I had been saying “yes” to much which crossed my path without discernment. This “yes” syndrome became fatal to my well being. And, with trepidation and heartache, I gave myself permission to say “no” to things. Invitations crossed my path and I had to carefully decide whether or not to join in on the fun. Saying “no” became a paramount discipline for me. I realized that when I said “no”, Christ still loved me. I didn’t have to “do” for Christ. By saying “no”, essentially, I was laying my armor down, saying, “I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. I won’t. Lord, I’m sorry. Why did I think by “do”ing so much it would bring me closer to you?” This time of stillness, of quiet, helped me begin to listen to my life.
Interestingly, when I said “no”, new invitations came my way. These invitations were delightful and different. A mini-art retreat danced into my path and I said “yes!”. A night of centering prayer dared me to enter silence with others. I said “yes!”. Saying “no” gave me space to pay attention. I noticed when I felt alive. I noticed when I felt passionate. I thought back to childhood about those things which came naturally to me. Drawing, writing, creating, reading, feeling. Interests that aren’t chore, but rather a delight. And, I began to implement them. An amazing transformation occurred. “No” shifted form to “yes”.
Nowadays, I continue to take great care to tend my life. I say “no” a bit easier knowing someone else will come along to fill the gap, someone else will have a heart for the cause, someone else will volunteer. This allows me to say “yes” to Christ’s gentle tug for my life. Instead of being split in many directions, I am able to give more generously to the cause that pulls at my heart, volunteer with my all for an event and not exhaust my being by participating in every dinner invitation. By accepting limitations to my life, I find I am able to say “yes” to being found in Christ. And, this, feels like the path of freedom.
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, “Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!” Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.” Luke 15:4-7
- When have you given yourself permission to say “no” to a good cause because your soul needed the rest?
- When have you allowed yourself to admit that you cannot do it all and allowed yourself to feel Christ’s celebration of you regardless?
With a Friend:
What is one thing you are giving time to that exhausts you?
With a Child:
What does it feel like to lose a toy and then find it?
A new poem, Contemplation, based on this blog can be found here.
I, too, want to get better at saying “yes” to the right things God has called me to do. I remember Oprah being the first to say to me (well, she was saying it to her studio audience) that you have to learn to say no. And since American women have a hard time with how they’re perceived by others, she suggested you say, “that’s an interesting opportunity; let me pray about it and get back with you.” I liked that response because I was so scared of the harsh way “NO” can come across. As I’ve gotten better at it, I now feel comfortable saying no. Perhaps it’s the space I allow myself to ponder and pray about opportunities that’s most important. Rather than a quick Yes or No, give others the permission to think about something first. Don’t corner them into giving a rapid response. Thanks Ally for this week’s questions!
Thanks for these thoughts, Kristen! I love the idea of giving others a space to be able to respond with “no”. When we ask and people say “yes” to our request out of obligation… it only leads to disaster.
Ally, I too have found some peace in saying no. By my saying no, I am opening the door for someone else to enjoy the experience. Actually by saying yes when I really want to say no causes resentment to crop up. Resentment robs me of joy, so it is counter productive to growing. I have learned that it I ask someone to be involved in something and they say no, they are doing all others a great favor.
I am a people pleaser and have had difficulty in saying no, but it is freeing. We are no good to God when we are frazzled by many “doings”. “Being” connects us to God much better than “doing”.
We are human beings… not human doings! Love this Roger. I am with you and agree wholeheartedly!
What do I want to say yes to?
Beautiful experience with these words today…
[…] Now, they can be themselves, loved for who they are, good or bad, restored by Christ. And, again, this feels like the path to […]