11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
Some people are very good at saying no to things. They approach offers skeptically, and are able to quickly not commit to multitudes of things. I am on the opposite side of the spectrum of these individuals. I struggle to say no, and more often (unless in highly unusual cases) say Yes. To practically every opportunity, event and chance that comes my way. I also am notorious for saying yes when people ask me to donate money. Partially because I get excited about so many things, that I can see positive opportunity and a window to contribute in so many things! And for my enthusiasm, I do live a very exciting and dynamic life. I love all the things I am involved in, I love excelling and trying new things and making a difference.
And there is some virtue sometimes to being active, busy and involved. Activity can breed courage, a sense of purpose, an ability to do more than what one thought previously possible. It is healthy to be up to things in life, to challenge yourself to move ahead with rigor.
In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive. –Lee Iacocca
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. –Dale Carnegie
Lately however I have discovered saying yes to everything is leading me astray. By saying yes to so much, I lead myself to be overcommitted, overworked, overwhelmed and overall less effective. By saying yes I cram my schedule with so many things I hardly leave myself a chance to breathe, much less sleep, eat healthy and rest. The quote below unfortunately speaks to my condition:
A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools. –Spanish Proverb
I sometimes find myself praying- God let it all slow down, let me get through this- when my crazy schedule is not only fully my fault, but also when I do get a chance to breathe, I fill up my time with more things! I am my own worst enemy on this front.
I think my pace in life stems in some ways from a fear of missing out. Fear of failure. Fear of not making a difference in the world. John had the courage to tell me last night (while I was stressed working on something until midnight) that these fears are all fairly self-serving and self-centered. And he is right- as much as I am genuinely excited about giving to others and living my life for God- the way I am living my life and prioritizing my motivations right now is not reflective of this at all. And I don’t always take things on for selfless reasons.
“Beware of the barrenness of a busy life” -Socrates
My stereotypical way of dealing with this problem is to commit to more. To say Yes to other things to try to solve the problem, or to just charge through it and get as much done out of what I have committed to as I can. Really, what I need to start practicing is to say no. To say no to things- and to stop feeding into the fear I would be missing out. The truth is, I will need to learn to say no if I want to lead a great life, to make a genuine difference, to give my life up to God. And I need to realize that part of living my life for God is practicing saying no every day. And in some ways, by saying no to other things I am saying yes to him. To allow myself the space to be filled with things I would not necessarily expect.
In this conversation, I pray for discernment, wisdom, and the courage to live my life differently than how I have been.