Oh No!

I read. I write. I speak. Always have. Lord willing, always will. My brain loves to learn, process, and help others. I learn by reading pretty much everything I can get my hands on, process through journaling, and then I help others by sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

I read to continually learn more. I am fascinated by anything that has a Wikipedia page–nutrition, movie facts, authors’ lives, historical events, how the mind works, travel, different cultures and languages, you get the idea. However, I am PASSIONATE about God, and I am continually hungry to know more about Him, who He is, how He thinks, and what all He expects of me, and the great part is the more I study about all of that, the more I learn. The more I learn the HUNGRIER I become to know more about Him, who He is, how He thinks, and what all He expects of me. It’s an infinite loop.

So, on top of my Bible and prayer time, I add books–books that catch my eye when I read the descriptions, but this one–well, the cover never really looked appealing to me. That may sound shallow, but I figure if I only have a good eighty to ninety years on this earth, I want to pack it full of good stuff, instead of fluff–and honestly, I thought, from the title, the book was about choosing a spouse, and I figured that is one thing I nailed.

That being said, I bypassed it for years, and then a few days ago, I saw it at a used bookstore and just bought it because I wanted to quickly grab something to read. I thought, if nothing else, I could use it in counseling to help a female who is in search of their life-mate.

The first chapter was super marked up and dog-eared, but the following chapters looked like a new book. This was funny to me because the first chapter I struggled reading because I was like, Okay, so it’s about choosing God’s divine assignments over just overwhelming yourself with obligations, but that isn’t me.

Boy! I had a lot learn about myself!

The more chapters I read, the more I chuckled at how many times God must have carefully laid this book in my path, only to have me shift right past it in a hurry to my over-committed schedule of events. Of course I did. I’m embarrassed to say I had done it to my husband and to my kids, and if they are the most important God-appointed assignments He’s given me, then why wouldn’t I pass up a book?

I tend to always to be the demonstration model for stretched-too-thin, but I didn’t realize that because I obviously moonlight as the Queen O’Denial. Don’t get me wrong! This sermon of over-committing has been preached to me by my loving husband numerous times, but sometimes God has to send a rescue mission through multiple avenues because we don’t accept the first as a rescue mission…or even a warning.

We tend to convince ourselves that a no is a cop out on an obligation. Our extensive excuses bumble on in slow motion to the background music of “If I don’t do it, who will?” So we often barrel down our ruts like an avalanche rushing down Mt. Everest and never pause to ask God if we’re even heading in the right direction.

As I read this book, I have started practicing saying no to assignments and obligations for which I felt guilty about not signing up, got pressured, or picked up out of fear. I have started turning down monthly commitments, giving to every charity I am asked to support at the supermarket, and doing things to help others out because I “have to,” as if I need to step in to be God’s back up when He misses something.

Now! Before you think I’m too horrible–know that I am choosing to not stretch myself, my time, my resources, and our finances so thin on things I choose to pick up that I have to turn down my God-given assignments, or worse yet, try to fulfill them being frazzled, on the edge of a breakdown, or forcing my family into a financial burden with which Bill Gates would struggle to keep up.

As I pray through this phase of purging, I have accepted a new assignment–to follow God’s leading, despite rejection, fear, doubt, uncertainty, unpopularity, manipulation, and guilt trips. Oh MAN! The guilt trips!!! I’ll be honest, people do NOT like you to tell them no, no matter how nicely you say it.

However, here is the part that makes me willing to endure all of that, IF my desire is to follow the plan of God instead of the desires of people, then that means I am going to have to lose the popularity contest, while I take up my cross and just follow Jesus. We ALL are if our ultimate goal is to follow God’s master plan–which always turns out to be way better than our debacles anyway.

People will get angry with us. People will make rude and crass comments. People will manipulate and pressure us, but still we must hold our ground and save our best for God and then our families. It is only THEN that we can let others know what we have left to offer, and sometimes God leads us, just like Nancy Reagan’s 1980’s drug campaign, to “Just Say No.”

So, if you contact me to request something of me, just know I’m going to respond with, “Let me pray about it,” and after prayer, the answer may very well be a kind “I appreciate you asking, but I’m going to have to say no thank you.”

So, as I learn, please pardon the dust. As a wife, as a mom, as a follower of Jesus, and as minister, I have given myself into God’s hands to do a total overhaul, a purging, and a reconstruction. The outcome may not look, think, or do what anyone else thinks is best, but as long as I’m still following those nail-scarred footprints, I’ve got a feeling, in the end, I’ll be so glad I saved my best for Him.

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