Just Say No

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The plans of the diligent end in profit, but those of the hasty end in loss. – Proverbs 21:5

Some of us say “yes” way too easily, therefore cluttering our calendars.

Can you bake six dozen cookies for the bake sale tomorrow?

“Yes,” you say, even though you hate to bake.

Can I drop my kids off at your house for a few hours so I don’t have to take them shopping with me?

“Yes,” you say, even though you don’t like to babysit.

Can you lead Bible study this week?

“Yes,” you say … even though you have no time to prepare because you’re baking cookies and watching your friend’s kids.

One of the most useful skills we can learn in life is to say “no” without an excuse. Many times we say “yes” without giving the request much thought. Our calendars say we are free, so we don’t have an excuse, and the perceived urgency of the request pushes us to act before weighing its importance and pertinence in our lives.

Granted, many requests are not bad, and some times you have to pitch in and help out a friend, a co-worker, your kid’s teacher, or a family member in a tight spot whether you want to or not. However, saying “no” to some requests is also a legitimate answer. Pausing before answering gives you time to think, review your priorities, and decide how to answer. If the task is too time-consuming, mentally-, physically-, or spiritually-draining, then have the courage to pleasantly, smilingly, and non-apologetically say “no”.

Prayer: Remind me to say “yes” to You before I say “yes” to everyone and everything else.

Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor. It’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living. – Peter Walsh

Keep It Simple

 

Don’t load yourself up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. – Luke 9:3

I used to be a major packrat. A partially chewed pencil, a sparkly pebble, a tattered piece of ribbon – all treasures to be protected. My childhood room was constantly cluttered, and my mother’s irritation at my mess was ever-present.

The wish of my mom for me to have a child just like me has come true. My youngest daughter has followed in my footsteps. I recently cleaned out her backpack to find (among other things) a paper heart, 3 pennies, a broken hair band, a stick, a bouncy ball, a foam diamond, and someone else’s chapstick.

Compared to a good chunk of the world, we here in the United States have so freaking much … money, food, education, possessions, opportunities, choices, advantages, healthcare. And I for one am guilty of hoarding them as well as taking them all for granted.

God shone some light on my tendencies towards excess about 9 years ago when our family moved back from living overseas. We had stored approximately 1/3 of our possessions while we were away thinking that we’d certainly need them upon our return. When the moving truck with what we thought were our treasures arrived at our new house in the States, we had no idea what the truck contained. And if we could have, we would have told the driver to take its contents straight to the dump.

Instead, the movers unloaded all that stuff into our basement. I literally felt sick to my stomach. We had paid to store excess stuff we never used, needed, or even thought about for over 2 years. From that day forward, I have been more careful and mindful about stocking our closets and shelves … asking myself if the item to be purchased is a need or a want. And on the flip side, I have been more liberal in getting rid of excess.

When Jesus sent the disciples off on their mission to spread the good news and to heal every disease and illness, he told them to take very little with them.

Keep it simple, he said.

Good advice. I’m not quite a minimalist now, but I’ve been heading that direction after realizing the wisdom of these words.

If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or even guilty by the clutter in your house, join me this season of Lent for the 40 bags in 40 days decluttering challenge. Click on over to my Simplify page for the rules (or lack of them) and for some ideas.

Starting tomorrow, may your trash bins be fuller and your closets lighter.

Prayer: Thank you for your wisdom. Bring to light the areas in my life and closets in my house where excess rules.

Live simply, so that others may simply live. – Mother Teresa