As life became exponentially more exhausting over the last 4 years, I went on a quest to streamline my calendar.
In 2014, I was working five-and-a-half days a week (sometimes through the weekend at camps), giving free tutoring at TOUCH Young Arrows (TYA), serving in the kids’ ministry on Saturdays and Sundays, and attending CrossFit classes 3 to 4 days a week.
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, especially since I hardly had any time to process my thoughts. Being around people all the time began to take its toll, so I stopped going for things one after another: TYA, kids’ ministry, CrossFit.
I learnt one of the hardest lessons of my life thus far – saying “no”. I said “no” to additional nights of meetings, I said “no” to outings even with massive FOMO, I said “no” to additional responsibilities at work.
By 2018, I was the queen of “no”.
I did not feel guilty about this. I know it was entirely necessary. I learnt the difficult lesson of my insufficiency and limitations. I learnt to give things up, acknowledging that I’m not the saviour of the world. I was forced to accept that I’m not an indispensable member of anything.
But I began to wonder whether in the habitual ease of saying “no”, I had forgone opportunities that would have encouraged me in faith, or encouraged others in faith? Had I lost my desire to love others at my expense, or perhaps grown cold to the cries of the needy?
I ended up standing at the sidelines of God’s presence, too preoccupied to step into that space where He was.
Sometime early last year, I worried if I would ever become that person who was once eager to serve, who willingly spent her time on others, who cried for the brokenness in people’s lives and who cared about the hearts of her friends.
I had grown so numb in my constant “no” to being involved that I worried I might have become a different person.
I realised that because I was often caught up in toxic cycles of self-reflection and internal monologues filled with questions about purpose and existence, I ended up standing at the sidelines of God’s presence, too preoccupied to step into that space where He was.
However, a question that has resonated in recent weeks is:
What if you were to say “yes” to everything that came your way this year?
What if I said “yes” to everyone who asked me to be involved in something? What if I said “yes” to anyone who needed help? What if I said “yes” to each time the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray for someone? What if I said “yes” to every opportunity, every experience, every person?
I’m thinking of the beautiful relationships, the resounding joy of being around for people, the surprising new feelings (good and bad), an abundance of stories to tell, and God working in and through me.
What if I said “yes” to every person in 2019 and for the year remembered that it’s not about me?
In his letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul speaks of God’s unwavering faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. When God makes a promise, unlike humans, he does not change his mind. In Him, it is always “yes”.
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:19-22 ESV)
Perhaps in this season, I might reflect a little of this spirit: To make my promises certain and give generously without holding back.
Wow. I’m filled with equal parts exhilaration and crippling fear just thinking about this.
What a sacrifice it would mean – of time, of money, of energy. How frightening and uncertain this would be. I’m not entirely sure how it will all pan out, or if it would even make a difference in my spiritual walk.
Perhaps as Paul says, I only need to live with Godly sincerity. Not with a sincerity to earn the favour of man, but a purposeful, spirit-led honesty to love others.
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in this world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV)
Earthly wisdom tells me to protect myself and to take care of my well-being. While I will not abandon the wisdom to care for myself, I think the world swings too far into selfishness.
So, for 2019, I will not actively seek out any opportunities, but wait patiently, praying in anticipation and seeing what turns up. And when questions asking for my participation come along, you know what my answer would be.
This article was first published on Delphne’s blog and is republished with permission.