Hello, my name is Naomi, and I am addicted to pleasing people.
Or, at least, I was. Now it's more of an occasional obsession, but either way, I am all-too-familiar with the raw ache to be accepted. Is it pride? Insecurity? Both? I'm not sure. But what I'm learning is this: there are times when we have to say "no," even if it rocks the boat, because it's ultimately best not only for us, but for others.
There are plenty of books on the market indicating I'm not the only one with a people-pleasing-problem. Some of my favorite books from my favorite authors cover this beautifully. So as I'm writing this I know two things: a lot of people need to hear it... and it's already been said.
Saying no has always been hard for me. In fact, it's been a challenge for me not to just jump in and offer help. See a need, fill a need --- that's the motto I silently lived by for years. Mostly, I wanted to help. But there was that almost-always-present desire to make people happy with me, too. To impress people with my willingness to serve. To somehow make myself indispensable because I could be counted on. I was a yes girl. And when I wasn't, I was a drowning-in-guilt girl.
My self inflicted burden of making everyone happy sucked the happy right out of me.
Until last week.
Last week, my husband and I had to make a very hard decision. It was time to complete our foster care re-licensing, and the plan was to just fly through it like we have for the past 3 years. Fill out a mountain of paperwork, medical exams and forms all around, and home safety meeting - done. After all, our family verses are James 1:27 and Psalm 127. I know the need, we've seen the need. I run this blog where I share about faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe of little people to follow hard after Jesus.
Wouldn't it be hypocritical to NOT remain open for foster care? Wouldn't people think poorly of me if we didn't? Wouldn't we be missing an opportunity to be His hands and feet?
No. No is the answer to all those questions and no was the answer I had to give our agency. It wasn't easy for me to say no - everything within me raged against it... everything except the still, small voice of my Shepherd who whispered, "No."
I stumbled over the words as I told the head of foster care we wouldn't be remaining open. I was honest, but it was hard. I fought with whether or not to even tell our friends and family - after all, an orphan advocate who says 'no' loses a bit of credibility, doesn't she? No. Not when her Shepherd is the One who lovingly whispered, 'no,' first.
And so, with my heart beating hard and tears streaming, I shared with our friends on facebook. Here's a portion of what I shared:
"Could you please email us and tell us why you are requesting to close your home? We need it for your file."
All that fear about what people would think? All the worrying that I would be thought weak, incapable, or uncaring? It was for nothing. The outpouring of love and support was incredible. Friends, true friends, not only acknowledged the pain associated with that 'no,' but spoke encouragement over our family, declaring we were still advocating for orphans. They saw our hearts and motives over our singular action. Balm to my weary soul.
Friend, I don't know what 'no' you are facing today, but if your loving Shepherd whispered it first, embrace it. Own it. Say it out loud and then stand firm. Not in your own strength or conviction, but in the knowledge that He knows best. And sometimes His best is a 'no' from us.
Sometimes, during a quiet time, Holy Spirit gives me a small truth - a phrase - I can hold on to. Recently it has been this:
Not every challenge is my challenge, and not every story is my story.
May you find peace today, in whatever He's asking you to do - or not do. And may His perfect love grace you with the courage to say 'no' when He tells you to.
Have you had to give a hard no recently? Can I pray for you regarding making a decision? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
Here you will find the musings of a homeschooling, work from home, adoptive Momma of 7! Adventures in faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe to follow hard after Jesus are spilled into these posts --- most often written with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope you'll stick around a while and find something - more likely SOMEONE! - that brings you hope!
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