April 8, 2014

When God Says You Don't Have To –My Messy Beautiful

"I'll pray about it!" I would answer with sincerity, but we all knew.  This was my new "No." I had intentions of praying about it, but really - if we're being honest here - I was praying that He'd say to say no!

I had battled years of saying yes before the question was fully asked... years of striving and being nice and people-pleasing... years of scrambling for just one more "You like me! You really like me!"  It's not that I was faking it necessarily - but after I would say yes, complete a task, or do my part, I would walk away feeling drained and still not enough.

We'll never feel like we are enough if we are stuck in all the Doing in order to be Getting... Getting acceptance, Getting love, Getting promoted, Getting somewhere -anywhere- different.

Eventually, I had found freedom in one glorious tiny little word.

I would joyfully say my "No" to anyone who would ask, relishing in the freedom of finally - (finally!) a little Me Time and a good book... or a coffee date, or writing time. Motherhood and marriage and life in general can be bossy and busy and who doesn't want a little down time to just be?

My "No" came out all sing-songy and melodic at first.  Slowly, however, it began to feel defiant and rebellious and you know my people-pleasing heart didn't like the way that was received. At first, I justified it... after all... I am free (implying, 'they' are not!) and it felt so freeing to sing that song. That fit okay for a little while, but over time I realized that I was tired of going by my feelings.  I wanted to go on His word... which meant I would have to go back to actually praying about whether to say Yes or No.

Yes or No to good things... helping out at my girlies' school, volunteering at church, hosting a party, getting involved in a ministry.  

Yes or No to fun things... weekends away, date nights, (an empty calendar!), conferences and retreats.

Yes or No to not fun things... hard things... things and people who would take up a lot of my time and resources and would oh most definitely cut in to all that 'freedom' (me time) I had grown accustomed to!

But here is the Messy Truth of my Messy Beautiful... His Grace found me.  Whether saying "Yes" or "No" - I had settled into a rhythm of feeling like the Mess was well-hidden if not gone, and just the Beautiful was showing.  But when I thought I was nailing it, it turns out I was so notHis Grace swooped in and picked me up.  He set me free (anyway) and reached in and held me close.  He wrapped me safely in His arms of Love and gave me a glorious season of practicing saying "No" and resting in Him. And then, He gently woke me up to the opportunity to say "Yes" again with my whole heart... with a healed, whole heart.  He bridged the gap between my "Yes" and my "No" and He brought me back to life again.

There is glory and trust that can take my breath away when I ask Him now and He says, "You don't have to."  I don't have to, but I can.  It seems as if He will be with me either way!

I am in a season now where I am finding balance and am quite surprised to find that I am saying "Yes" more than "No"... I am leaning in, opened up, and bowed down.  I am realizing that this one life that I am given is short and it is flying by and while I love (LOVE, I tell you!) my free Me time, I am once again oh so aware that really, ALL of the time that I am given is His.  He graciously still lets me hide away with a great book, or schedule some grown-up playdates from time to time, but He is always just as graciously calling me out into the beautiful messy world of Yes... of opening hands and heart and just saying Yes. There is a lot of adventure out there... and the first step to jumping into it is always, always "Yes!"

By His grace, I am waking up and I see now that I have a lot of living left to do.  As much as I realized that I'd never feel enough by all my doing, I am stepping into a confident being.  In Him, we are enough... which frees us up to Be and Do great things!

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


  1. Thank you for encouraging me to think more carefully about what I am saying yes and no too, and my reasons for giving the answer that I give. "In Him, we are enough" so beautiful and so true!

    1. Jo - so thankful that you are with me in being Messy, Beautiful Warriors!

  2. Karrilee! You are so right! WHY do we over-extend ourselves just because we don't feel we can say "no"?! Each morning that I start with, "Lord, please reveal to me YOUR to-do list for me today", I have the most productive and non-stressed day! You'd think by now I would have learned my lesson to start each day that way, without fail. I really needed your reminder about "leaning in". That's some good stuff. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Oh, Amen Elin! I know - why is it that we forget how this works THE BEST? When we offer up all of OUR lists of things to do - and ask Him to prioritize, rearrange - or rewrite - them, we end the day productive and NOT exhausted... at least not in our own depleted strength! thanks so much for leaning in and being a Messy, Beautiful Warrior with me!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

Blog Archive