Friends, I’m going to admit something: I love TOMS shoes. Between my girls and I, our household has owned 7 pairs of them over the years. I know, I know. We may have a problem. But kids’ feet grow fast ok?!
You know how TOMS shoes works, right? You buy a pair of shoes, and TOMS gives another pair to a kid in need. So awesome! Your purchase totally feels like a win-win. It gives you all the feels.
We all like to think of ourselves as TOMS shoes. We can give AND give. Unfortunately, there are a couple problems with this idea. TOMS actually charges a substantial amount of money for those shoes. I hate to break it to you, but they charge more than it takes to make those 2 pairs of shoes. They’re making a profit. It doesn’t mean it’s not still a good thing that a kid gets a pair of shoes, I’m just pointing out that neither you nor TOMS shoes is, in reality, "double-giving."
I have bad news for you. You, as an individual, are not TOMS shoes. When one pair of shoes leaves your shelf, it doesn't mean that you can give ANOTHER pair of shoes away. You have one pair of shoes to give. You can choose the recipient, but you can’t choose two or more.
Each day is the pair of shoes we get. Did you know that we are only given 24 hours in each day? This may be a shocking realization (and one that still surprises me), so I’ll say it again to let it sink in: We are each given ONLY 24 hours in a day. No more, no less. We can rearrange them, fill them all up, but we cannot add any more hours just because we’ve filled up our allotted 24. @@Because time is limited, each yes we say has a no attached, whether we realize it or not.@@ We were not built for eternal output. We are human, which means we, like time, are limited.
Each of us has several different spheres or compartments of our lives: things like work, family, volunteering, church, and kids’ extracurricular activities would be possible examples. I homeschooled our oldest for one year, and that sphere took up a HUGE chunk of time. When I made the decision to say yes to homeschooling, I was saying no to a lot of other things: work (outside the home), time with friends, more volunteer hours, etc. Every time we say yes to one sphere, we’re saying no to another.
This concept of limits and having to make choices is what economists call "scarcity." Many of us have the concept of scarcity down pat when it comes to finances. I'm far more conservative with my budget than I am with my calendar. Somehow, I still believe that I fill up all the spaces, I'll still be able to keep my house clean, spend lots of quality time with my kids, and squeeze in enough "self-care" to keep myself from looking like a drowned rat and keep the wheels of my life running like a well-oiled machine. To quote Dwight Schrute, "False."
Sometimes we’re so indiscriminate with our yeses that it’s not just a certain sphere of our life that we say yes to, but an unhealthy habit or mindset. If we say yes to that half a carton of ice cream in which we want to drown our sorrows, we are saying no to our body's needs, the ability to button skinny jeans, and a good night’s sleep. (Not that I know that from experience. You can prove nothing.)
Here are some examples from my own life, this very week:
-Because I said “yes” to my fear of asking for help, or being an imposition, I said “no” to supporting my husband in a certain situation.
-Because I said “yes” to an extra 2 hours of sleep in the morning, I said “no” to writing.
-Because I said “yes” to a meeting, I said “no” to my kids.
Now, the “no" in a particular situation may be ok. It’s totally ok, and even healthy sometimes, to say “no” to your kids and “yes” to a volunteer commitment. Or to say “no” to a volunteer commitment and say “yes” to taking care of yourself. The point I want to make is not when you should or shouldn't say yes or no, but simply that each "yes" should require a conscious decision on your part. Only you can determine the answer for your life. The important thing is to recognize the decision you’re making, and make peace with it on the front end. Then when the inevitable guilt or second-guessing sets in, you can stand on the decision you made and say no to the guilt. (That’s the most important “no”, by the way. I’ve spent a lot of my life getting jerked around on the chain of guilt. Don’t give in. You are not a slave to it. You can say “no.”)
**I should interrupt this post to tell you that this lesson is one I'm still learning, trying, and failing at every single day. My dear husband will probably be irritated that I even wrote this, considering that I fail to take my own advice so miserably and so often. I felt you needed to know that I am writing from within the trenches, NOT on the other side of this hill.**
Here are a few of the clarifying questions I use when deciding whether to say “yes” to something:
-What will I be saying “no” to in order to say yes to this?
-Is this something God’s specifically given me to do?
-How much time (realistically) will this “yes” require? Do I have that many hours or
minutes to spare?
-Does saying “yes” to this align with my values and what I most want to prioritize?
-Is this the right season and/or time to say "yes" to this, or does it need to wait?
We are each given 24 hours each day, and I don't think it's because God didn't think things through. God knew what he was doing. He gave us enough. And he can help us decide what to do with them, but we have to recognize that the way we spend each hour is a choice.
What will you say yes to this week? To what will you say no?