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Letting the Right People Down

I am a yes girl at heart.

For me this means that I love to participate. I love to join in. I love to experience whatever you are suggesting that will make life better or be tons of fun. I’m one of those people that love to be busy, I always have been. I thrive on chaos and noise and a packed calendar. But more and more I have become the one giving excuses because I have missed something important. Or I am the one who arrives woefully late and unprepared to whatever I am supposed to be on time to and prepared for. I am overloaded and running around like a crazy person, incapable of prioritizing. I am just deadlining.

What has to be done RIGHT NOW (like in the next 10 minutes)? Ok, I’ll do that! Drive this kid and this kid and this kid to practice. Squeeze in a trip through the drive thru for the kid who isn’t making it home tonight until 9:00 pm (being overextended is a family affair around here). Finish a project.  Get to a meeting. Drive. Stop. Drive some more. Fall into bed at night not knowing which end is up and then waking up in the night with a head full of THOUGHTS that won’t turn off. All the ways I have “failed” are what march through my brain.

I didn’t stop to read to Sam today.

I barely looked at Kate’s awesome spelling test as I was running out the door.

I didn’t have time to help Lily with math.

Thomas just wanted to show me his Minecraft world and I didn’t take a look.

Ellie was ready to talk at 10:00 pm but I needed to get to bed because I have turned into a van driving zombie.

And Todd? Not sure we talked about anything other than the schedule today.

These are the signs (along with the pit in my stomach) that it has happened yet again, I am accidentally overextended and nothing I am doing is intentional. Too. Much. Yes.

Being a yes girl has become an underlying cause of chaos occurring in my world. Even using Jen Hatmaker’s brilliant “on the beam” litmus test (if you haven’t already read For the Love* stop everything and read it now), I am finding that my beam is so very overcrowded. The thing is it’s mostly filled with stuff I just love, stuff I don’t want to say no to. But I’m starting to realize that there can be too much of a good thing. I know I need to start saying no to something, which in turn gives me the icky feeling that I’m letting people down.

I’ve never been a fan of letting people down (who is?), but then I had an epiphany. By saying yes to all the things coming my way, I was still letting people down. But they were the wrong people. I needed to start letting the RIGHT PEOPLE down. Because here is the real and hard truth, it is so often much, much easier to let the our people down.

And our people are the WRONG PEOPLE to let down, even though they are the ones who will love us no matter what. We say yes to the people we feel might not love us if we say no and we say yes to things that will make us look good or we say yes to people who might judge our no. Or we say yes because we want to have time and energy for more. But too often, my people get the shaft, they get the leftover me instead of the fresh and ready to go me. God gave me this little corner of the world as my own and if I am not tending to it, who will?


Who wouldn’t want to say yes to these faces?

So what does the balancing act of tending to my people and still participating in the world-at-large look like (besides a big mess)?

For me, it now looks like understanding that something has got to give. Someone has to be let down. And I need to make sure it will be the right people, so I take a moment to breathe before jumping into new things with two feet.  Before yelling, “YES! I want to do that! That sounds so fun! I want to help! The kids would love that!”. Because this is the stuff regret is built from when I am filling in my calendar for the month.

I want to avoid the “How in the world did I think we were going to do all this??” moment. I want to think, If I say yes is this good for my people? If I say no will I be letting the right people down?  And I want to focus on the fact that with every no, a wonderful yes is born. (See what I did there? This yes girl still gets to say yes!)

It might look like me saying to my child, “That sounds like a blast, but you are already signed up for your one thing” then we both walk away. Even if I’m counted on for the carpool and it’s a great opportunity. In saying no to this hypothetical, really fun and amazing thing, I am saying yes to more peaceful nights at home with time to actually look into the faces and eyes of my people and their spelling tests.

It looks like me saying, “I wish I could keep doing this, but I just can’t.” Then actually walking away. And realizing that I am saying yes to time spent checking in with friends that I haven’t talked to with actual words coming out of our mouths in ages. And a goodbye to the anxiety that fills my heart.

It looks like me saying, “You can go, but only if you guys can find someone to drive you, my taxi-van is off duty.” Then putting my feet up for a moment of rest even if another ride is (gasp!) not located. And yes to that glass of wine with my husband at the end of a long day hopefully chatting about more than the schedule. Because he’s pretty cool and I miss him.

It looks like being able to say, “Thanks so much for asking, but that won’t work for me right now”.  And mic drop.  No explanation and no regrets. And a big old yes to having time in my schedule and energy to rise up when my help is genuinely needed by my people and the world. So, that meal I was going to bring you when you had your baby 3 years ago? Have another and I might just be able to follow through this time.

And here is another really important epiphany, when I actually started doing just this, the people I was so worried about letting down? They were most often totally cool with my no. Seriously, part of this lesson is that most often people are really good and understanding. There have been a lot of “me too”s and “I totally get it”s.

I have learned that, alas, I am not always instrumental to the world at large. But I am always instrumental to my own little world. I don’t lift right out here, so I can high five the right people as I tell them no and then go off on my own jam with my peeps. My season is my people right now. I confess that I thought once they were no longer babies I would be out in the world more. The joke is on me, I’m pretty sure they might even need me more now that they are older. I am learning to embrace it.

Join me in choosing your people and in choosing your peace. I look around and see so many accidentally overextended people walking around the world. Couldn’t we all use a rest? We have such good intentions my friends…we really do. Just remember that in the end, the time to take a breath, leave the van, rediscover the couch and the books and the backyard and the joy and the people will be so worth it. And the knowledge that we have let the right people down (along with a little glass of wine and a quick round of Hay Day before bed) will be all we need to help us sleep at night.

I have learned that, alas, I am not always instrumental to the world at large, but I am always instrumental to my own little world.

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