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3 Questions to Ask Before Saying “Yes”

One of the Hardest Words to Say

It’s almost the middle of December and life just might be pretty full and busy at your house. So tonight, I want to talk about something that’s been on my heart this Christmas season… and that is about saying one of the hardest words to say.

What’s the hardest word to say, you ask?

It’s the word “no”. It’s such a small word but whether we learn to say it or not can make such a big difference in our life.

During the Christmas season, there can be so much going on. There are so many opportunities, so many seemingly necessary obligations, so many to-do’s.

There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, gifts to wraps, presents to make, decorations to put up, Christmas cards to address and send, cookies to bake, menus to plan, traditions to keep, volunteer opportunities to participate in, Christmas programs to attend…

You can start to feel like, “There’s just so much that I need to do!”

Which is why we’ve got to get good at saying “no”.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really good at saying yes. I love to help people. I have a really big heart. I love to start new projects. And I have a really optimistic personality — which means I often think I can take on more than I should! 🙂

The truth is also that I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I want people to like me. And if I’m not careful, I can say “yes” to everything and everyone as a result.

But if I don’t want to live life feeling completely stressed out and exhausted, I have to get good at saying “no”.One of the Hardest Words to Say

As we go into a holiday season I want to challenge you to ask these three questions before you say “yes” to anything:

#1) Do I want to prioritize the time for this?

Look at your calendar. Think through your current commitments and responsibilities.

What time will this “yes” require? Is it worth prioritizing to make happen or is just not high on the priority list.

Last year, Kaitlynn didn’t participate in the Christmas Figure Skating Program because we just didn’t have the room in our calendar for all the extra practices it would require and she didn’t really care one way or the other. This year, it was something she really wanted to do, so we rearranged a number of things to make it happen.

#2) Is this a good fit for our whole family during this season of life?

Guess what? Last year, maybe a certain commitment or tradition was a really good fit, but this year it’s not. And that’s totally okay. Don’t feel like you have to do something this year because you did it last year.

For instance, some years we’ve sent Christmas cards out. This year, it’s something I decided wasn’t a good fit. I have complete peace and freedom and no guilt over that.

Last year, we didn’t really put up many Christmas decorations. This year we did. My kids really wanted to and they asked if they could do all the decorating themselves!

One of the Hardest Words to Say

#3) What am I going to give up to do this?

There are always a cost when you say “yes” to something. You will have to say “no” to something else, even if you don’t even realize that you’re saying “no”.

Maybe you’re saying “no” to quiet, maybe you’re saying “no” to sleep, maybe you’re saying “no” to baking cookies with your kids because you’re saying “yes” to doing something for someone else.

You have to count the cost for yourself and your family. What’s going to matter in 25 years from now? What matters to you right now? What are your priorities?

All of life is a tradeoff. And we’re not always going to make the right decisions but we’ll make many more right decisions if we take time to ask ourselves these three questions before just saying “yes” without thinking.

One of the Hardest Words to Say

If you’ve asked this questions and you feel like you should say no, but you’re struggling to actually say it, ask yourself “Why?” 

Are you wanting to say “yes” because it’s something your family is excited about or it’s something you love and it’s going to fill up your tank? Or because you feel like God wants you to minister to that person or be involved in that opportunity? Or is it because you feel like you should or you saw someone else doing it and it looked like a good idea? Or is it out of guilt?

This weekend, I challenge you to give yourself permission to say “no” to the crazy obligations and frantic pace and say “yes” to rest and stopping to savor the beauty that is to be found in all the ordinary, every day moments.

Don’t let busyness and to-do’s squeeze, strangle, and squash out your joy. Because you only have one life to live.

One of the Hardest Words to Say
P.S. If you struggle with knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no”, I highly recommend Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes.

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22 Comments

  • Sarah says:

    This has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. I first read “The Best Yes” one year ago and was it ever a breath of fresh air for me! She gave me permission to say “no!” Her book also outlined questions to help you figure out if what you are trying to decide is a good fit emotionally, spiritually and physically. I cannot recommend this book enough! I really do believe that there are so many GOOD things we can keep saying yes to, but we ultimately end up being drained, stressed out and joyless mommas. The holidays, especially, can leave us feeling drained as we see all the fun extra activities other families are doing and we feel as though we are missing out. One thing that has helped me is to color code my calendar. I use a different color pen for the things I put on the calendar that take us out of the house and another color for activities that take us out of town. I can look at a glance to see if I am saying “yes” to too many things that leave me feeling drained (as an introvert, I have to guard myself and limit the number of activities I participate in outside of the house otherwise I end up pretty frazzled!). I even mark down things that i wouldn’t typically put on a calendar even though I don’t feel like I need to “remember” that I go to church on Sunday or homeschool co-op on Thursday- but those things “count” as “yes” committments and this helps me to keep a balance! (I hope this is making sense!! haha! It’s really late, but I was up working on my blogging stuff and thought I would come check out your most recent post!) Now I think I need to go back and re-read “The Best Yes” as a refresher for my new year!

  • Jessica H says:

    A friend said to me years ago, “Isn’t it sad that Christmastime is the only time of the year that I don’t have time to read my Bible?” That has always stuck with me. I have to remind myself, if I don’t have time for Jesus during this season, then I am doing too much.

  • Kristi says:

    The last couple of years I have let the kids (now age 10 and 12) decorate the house for Christmas. I help set up the tree, put lights on it, and then open the other boxes of ornaments and decorations and let them go. Nothing is where I would put it, to me it doesn’t exactly look nice, but they think it is amazing! I let go of what other people might think when they come over and if they have a look like ??? – I just say didn’t A or E do a great job hanging that there this year, I never would have thought to put it there. Relieves items off my to do list, the kids have a great time, and their joy is all I really need.

  • I say, “Thank you for thinking of me! Let me check my schedule & I will get back with you this evening.” That let’s me really think if
    I have time to commit to their request.

  • Amanda says:

    Girl!!!! Thank you for posting this today!!! I needed it TODAY! The perfect word… Totally in season for me… Confirmation on so many levels. Blessings!

  • Jennifer says:

    Saying no as quickly as possible is working for me. I know that I have too much going on every December so I just say no quickly unless it’s something that really tugs at my heart.

    So no to the office cookie swap. No to the office ugly sweater party. No to the work holiday party. No to my husband’s work holiday party. No to baking for the holiday concert reception at my son’s school.

    And no one has called me out (well, my coworkers gave me a bit of grief). No is not the end of the world. It’s just a two letter word.

  • BUSY MOM IN AL says:

    Aren’t you LOVING that Advent book Behold the Lamb of God? I can’t put it down!! 🙂

  • Deborah says:

    I LOVE The Best Yes!!

    Such a good read. I am currently reading Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington and it is so good, too! Some of the same concepts of picking and choosing and saying no to good things. It’s obviously something a LOT of us struggle with!

  • Jen W-M says:

    Can you please tell me where you can purchase the book, Born is the King? I looked on Amazon and was unable to find it. Thank you, Jennifer

  • The toughest thing for me is to break free of old commitments. I finally resigned from a ministry after 7 years – in writing this time – stating that this was my final year. I felt an enormous sense of relief and peace. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll feel like I should assist, but giving myself permission to stop was such a blessing.

  • MindaC says:

    Excellent post. It’s very hard not to want to be everything to all people especially on Christmas. I’ve tried to reconcile the Hallmark type Christmas with the reality of life with a full time job outside of the home and a 2 year old and a husband who also works full time and often late hours. My house isn’t decorated top to bottom but it’s decorated enough to have a lovely Christmas atmosphere. No, we didn’t put the village up since something would surely end up in the cat’s water bowl but I haven’t missed it. My cookies have been “semi homemade”, super easy or no bakes but I’ve enjoyed seeing my little boy running around with chocolate smeared all over his face. Lord willing, we’ll have more Christmas seasons and I don’t have to try to squeeze everything into this one.

  • Guest says:

    There’s so much out there encouraging women to say no or to think more before saying yes. It clearly resonates with many, many people so I’m glad it is available to people.

    I struggle with the opposite. I’ve always been (literally even as a child I remember being this way…) very guarded with my time and feel I could benefit from hearing/reading some thoughts on being less quick to say no and more willing to say yes. I don’t want to say yes to dinner out with girlfriends because I work full time and don’t like to be away in the evenings when I get to spend time with our kids. By the time the weekend rolls around, I want a relaxing and peaceful weekend (I deplore driving from place to place and being “busy busy”) so I don’t like to commit to things then either.

    I’m very happy with our life and try to keep things simple but I do wonder if I’m missing out on more fellowship opportunities because I am so strict about our schedule. For any moms of grown/teenage children, is it maybe just this season in my life?

  • Jessica says:

    I need that Coffee Cozy…Where can I get one???

  • Tiffany Bell says:

    This year, I finally feel like I have a good handle on this. I have felt that this season while busy is full of intentional choices that surround my family in the spirit of the season. I said no to christmas cards, most homemade gifts (the kids came up with their own ideas and have really worked hard on these this year). I guess I also said no to my usual time on the internet. I intentionally only follow a few sites-yours has been a staple since 2011. However, I haven’t checked in in over a week. Getting to catch up today is fun and I missed the daily encouragement, but I was living my life and I am so glad I did. Thank you for your part in helping me to let go and say yes to what really matters: God, or family and friends and breathing room for myself. Merry Christmas!

  • Shel says:

    I am not a Christian , therefore we do not celebrate Christmas . However , Judaism has many holidays with many opportunities to juggle. The difference is that I say yes as often as possible . We aren’t decorating our houses, throwing/attending parties, making cards etc.. During our holidays we are given multiple opportunities to serve and give to others less fortunate. Prepare meals for others, donate money and time to those in need.. In fact it’s a REQUIREMENT , not a choice , and we do this happily . “Busyness” should never be an excuse to do for others . I have five children and work outside the home , but it is always a priority . Always say yes, but to the things that truly matter .

  • Laura says:

    I wonder if I could get some input on this problem I have with saying yes or saying no and feeling guilty. I am a fairly new “Grandma” ( since Dec 2014) with 4 little ones already…ages 6,4,18 mths, and 1 month, and another on the way in Dec.
    I LOVE being around them, and since both sets of parents live within 15 min I get to A LOT. But sometimes when the “kids” call and ask if I can watch the littles I find myself changing my plans to accommodate them because I feel it’s important to support family, and I want them to be able to go on dates since my husband and I rarely got to. Or they just drop by when I not expecting to spend time with me, probably because my husband and I separated a year ago. I usually enjoy it when they are with me, but I find sometimes I feel overwhelmed with activity. I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I want lots of family time, but I just don’t know how to say no even when it’s really not easy for me to say yes. I need to find balance somehow, without guilt.

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