“Hello, my name is JoAnna, and I’m a yes addict.”
Yes, I will do this job.
Yes, I will manage this project.
Yes, I will lead this ministry.
Yes, I will partner in this venture.
Yes, I will do this thing that I truly DO NOT want to do.
Do you see the pattern? In my desire to be a blessing to people and have their approval, I began a habit of saying yes to everything that anyone asked me to do. Stretched beyond my limits and only able to give a small percentage of my energy to each of the multitude of tasks, I was drowning in a sea of my own making, unable to give my best to any one task.
Being stubborn is a deeply rooted family trait and apparently it takes a lot for God to get the point across. During June, what I have deemed as my month of tears and reflection, everything stopped, and I had to listen. (That’s a whole different post!) God spoke clearly. He showed me all the ways I had fostered a calendar which gave a piece of me to everyone but Him. While I had given a lot of time to the physical church, my heart had not given that time to God, but rather the god of pleasing people in the church.
In the last several months, the purposeful appointment of my schedule has become a priority. As a wife, mother of three active kids, writer, business owner, college student, praise team member and youth pastor, the tasks of my day are often planned well in advance as not to forget anything important. Responsibility is a never-satiated beast devouring every minute it can.
But God has a higher calling on my time, as with all His kids. He has reminded me in a myriad of ways that I cannot give my limited time to everyone else and still have ample time for Him.
I set a new objective: remember the purpose God has nurtured in my heart, using the gifts and talents he has lovingly bestowed on me. Stick to the calling. Say no to the distractions. Stop trying to be Supermom. Stop volunteering.
Start focusing on the things that cultivate the God-given purpose of my life.
I’ve been so proud of myself! I felt successful at being a good steward of my time and using it to chase after what God called me to do. My priorities were clear and if an activity didn’t line up with those priorities, it had to go. I hadn’t volunteered for anything extra. I didn’t take jobs that I wanted. By stepping down from certain obligations, I’ve been able to spend time doing things I couldn’t before. I’ve been writing more, studying the Word more, spending quality time with my family. I’ve been reading my friend’s books and having lunch with people I have missed. I’ve been focusing on my health and weight loss. The activities on my calendar all point me down the path I know God wants me to take and somehow being busy doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
Make progress not perpetual motion.
…until my addiction caught up with me.
When recovering from any addiction, there are bumps along the way. We may have setbacks and fall off the wagon, so to speak. This past week, I did.
Why did you agree to that? You don’t want to do that! It’s a distraction and a detour from the objective. Stop saying YES, you hard-headed moron!
This the berating I gave myself while walking away from a situation that was both slightly aggravating and slightly comical.
After recording a podcast with three other people (all men), we somehow rabbit-trailed to a conversation about the news. I mentioned how just the day before my devotional was about allowing your friends to curate the news for you so that you don’t waste valuable time. The basic point of the devotional was that there are people out there who are obsessive over the news. They seek it out, they research every little thing, and they truly desire to stay abreast of the goings-on in the world.
Great! Let them do it!
Your friends will tell you the important news that they know you’re interested in, and you can go about your day doing what matters.
In a way, I felt very validated by this devotional because this is my process. I don’t obsess over news and current events. I don’t watch the local news broadcasts. I don’t search social media for juicy stories. Whatever news I hear about is usually in conversation and if a subject spikes my interest or pertains to me directly, I’ll take action. My husband has several people that he follows on social media and I am subjected to their podcasts or videos while we lay in bed at night. People like to talk about what’s going on so I never feel deprived of information or like I’m in the dark. I also don’t waste time on news that has no consequence in my life.
Here we are, having this conversation about how I don’t stalk the news and moments later, the leader of this podcast—who was either not truly listening, totally missed the point, or is trying to make a point—asked me to do a segment on the next show…over three news stories that interest me!
Let’s all say it together: What the hell?
I know what you’re thinking. There’s only one obvious answer here: NO!
Did JoAnna, the yes-addict chose the obvious answer? No!
My habitually people-pleasing, I want to help self said, okay, sure. The sad part is, I didn’t think twice about agreeing. In that moment, it was simple: he needed me to do something, so I had to do it. This person’s approval matters and if I say no, he will be unhappy. I can’t disappoint the leader, what if they kick me off the podcast?
I immediately walked away from that meeting berating and shaming myself for sabotaging my recovery.
Why? Why? Why?
Why would I agree to do that?
Why can’t I learn my lesson?
Why wasn’t this person listening to my point in the first place?
Why do I give certain people so much power over my time? It’s my damn time! Ugh!
Just recently I even posted a meme that said, “If we don’t say yes authentically, we say yes resentfully, and that leads to far more problems than if we’d said no in the first place.”
What is wrong with me?!
This, my friends, is the prime example of how I have caused a million different problems in my life: saying yes, when I should stick up for myself, protect my time, and say NO!
In that moment, not only did I do something that made me disappointed in myself, but I committed my time to something that will take me away from my objective. Because I can tell you with all certainty, God did not call me to search out news stories.
How do we cure this yes-addiction? How does one come to change a knee-jerk reaction? How do we reclaim our time by saying no to the world so we can say yes to God?
Jesus did. He’s a perfect example. Even Jesus cleared his schedule to have time for God (Mark 1:35). He left his friends and went out on a boat in the middle of the lake (Matt 14:13). He went away to spend the night with God (Luke 6:12) even when people were searching for him (Luke4:42). Jesus managed his time and didn’t say yes to everyone who asked for a piece of Him. He remembered the purpose of his coming and held true to that purpose (Mark 1:38) even when it meant and denying people of healing or attention. He didn’t do this out of malice or aggravation of people’s demands, he simply knew what he had to do and did it! Everyone wanted a piece of Jesus, but he held true to the calling and purpose of his life.
As a wife, mother of three active kids, writer, business owner, college student, praise team member and youth pastor, I have plenty of things that require/demand my time. These are responsibilities God has given me and no one else can take care of them like I can. That’s why they’re mine. For everything else, I must learn so stop and listen to the guidance of Holy Spirit before I make a decision, no matter how small. Does this request fall in line with my objective? Does this task require me to take time away from something else that does line up with my objective? Am I saying yes because I want to do the thing, or because I want make people happy, even at the expense of myself? (Ouch!) And if people get mad when I tell them no, are they truly deserving of my yes in the first place? This has to be the new standard by which to measure my decisions.
So what am I going to do this week? I’m going carve time away from something else to give to this assignment. I’m going to make this particular yes be yes, then, please help me Jesus, it’s going to a firm no from here on out! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Let’s keep each other accountable, shall we? Let me know what you have a problem saying yes to and we can support each other in recovery! Or maybe you’re great at saying no; what’s your secret?
Much love to you all,