I'm Saying No to Yes.
I’m saying no to saying yes. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should. There may be a need, but that doesn’t mean I should be filling it. I know this sounds like a selfish statement, or even harsh, but it’s quite the opposite. I was always the girl who said yes.
“Naomi, can you work tomorrow? We need you.”
“Naomi, can you come over now? I need someone to talk to.”
Saying yes to either of these questions isn’t bad, right? They need my help at work, and I have tomorrow off. I can clear my calendar of any other plans. I’m helping my team. My friend needs my help, and I can help her. I can free myself to come over immediately. I am caring for my friend.
Perhaps you’re thinking I made the right decision. That is how you be a good worker and friend, right?
In hindsight, I can see I made the wrong decision by saying yes. I said yes to work, when I should have chosen to rest as I was sick at the time and was getting sicker. I knew that, but I told myself it was the right thing to do. I said yes to seeing my friend at 11pm when I was already exhausted.
I could look at the decisions I made and say that I was being strong and was thinking about other people when I said yes–but I don’t believe that is what motivated me. In both scenarios I felt needed and wanted. Saying yes made me feel important. It gave me a sense of worth.
On both occasions I was the solution. There was a problem and I could fix it. In both scenarios I felt needed and wanted. I felt proud and independent.
These situations would make me feel more tired than I was already feeling. But I could tell others how much I worked and that I had gone out late to help someone. I felt strong and entitled to my badge, “Tiredness won’t stop me.”
In actual fact, this sense of worth wouldn’t last long, because it was based on what I could do. Unless I could forever fulfil every persons need and want, this worth and value I felt would disappear, leaving me feeling worthless. This eventually would happen.
The sense of pride and independence I carried came before I would fall off my perch, where I would realise that I myself, am not the solution to the problems I see.
This fall came in the form of absolute and complete exhaustion, where I had felt so strong and had worn my badge so proudly; I was left lying there, unable to get out of bed. Feeling no sense of worth, my pride was crushed. I was unable to be dependant on myself for the most basic need and was completely weak and exhausted.
It’s been some years since I have been unable to get out of bed, and now I can see why I got to that point a lot clearer. It was a result of years of always saying yes to everything asked of me. We live in a word that applauds those who are independent, who push past the body’s limits.
I’m not independent and I am more than okay with that. I need the love and support of my friends and husband, and I rely on my faith every day. I now know that I am of great worth, because Jesus died for me and loves me.
I can’t push my body too hard. I need rest. I need sleep.
The world commends hard work and hates laziness. I can see the logic in that. The problem I see is that we now, too often, see rest as laziness and hard work as working yourself to the bone. So after years of saying yes, I’m saying no to saying yes.
There will always be needs and problems around me. I can help, but I can also consider where it is I am meant to help, and if it is the right time for me to be helping. I’m no help to anyone if I’m bedridden with exhaustion because I said yes to everything.
I don’t want everyone’s approval and affirmation to validate me, because who I am is not determined by how much I can do, but by Jesus, who says I’m of great worth.
I’m saying no to saying yes.