My college professor and advisor once said that our character is proven more by what we say no to than what we say yes to. There are many great things out there that are easy to say yes to, but sometimes saying no is what is best.
Take ladies' Bible studies for example. I don't do them (although I am going to a Wednesday night summer study when it works out for my family for me to attend). I tried going for awhile, but it was way too stressful for me. We were always late, and I was grouchy and short-tempered with my kids. The rules are that kids have to stay in the nursery, and if they don't want to stay in the nursery, that is another stress altogether. Plus, I'm not organized enough to return home from being gone all morning and have a productive rest of the day. The stresses and the grumpiness of it all are quite taxing. So pretty much a whole day is shot trying to become a "more godly woman." In the process, my children are not seeing Mommy acting like a patient, godly woman.
I've come to the conclusion that it is better for me, and my husband and my children, at this season in my life to not put the women's Bible study morning on my already full plate. I can read and study my Bible just fine right here at home (and it is much more relaxing and my kids can actually be with me if they're up).
Laura at Heavenly Homemakers blogged about this earlier this week as well. Here's part of what she wrote:
"I remember struggling to get out of the door by 9:30 for a Ladies’ Bible Study each Thursday morning when my boys were tiny (nursing, in diapers, potty training…). I don’t remember a thing about what we studied during those years. What I do remember is feeling like I wanted to CRY every single Thursday by the time I finally got there (late) and fought my kids to get into the nursery. Don’t even get me started on how much it wrecked their nap schedule and threw the entire day off and created a lot of grouchiness (the kids were usually grouchy too).Laura interviewed author and speaker Lisa Whelchel about raising little ones. Here's what Lisa said when asked, "What encouragement can you offer moms with little ones?”
Why did I keep doing it week after week? Because it was 'a good thing to do'."
“I’d say do as little as possible outside of being a mom. Don’t put your kids in a bunch of activities. Don’t be involved yourself in a lot of extra activities. You don’t need to try to lead a Bible study…don’t even go to a bunch of Bible studies if getting there takes too much out of you. There are so many good things to do, but you may need to give up even some of the good things you’re interested in doing so that you can do what you need to do for your family. Raising little ones takes a lot out of us and if we give a lot of our energy to outside things, we don’t have anything left for our family. This is a short season in life…later you can do more of the other things you feel are important, but right now raising your little ones is the most important."What great encouragement and advice. You can read the rest of Laura's interview here. She also talked to her about marriage and raising teens.
Getting back to just saying no, I was quite convicted once, but also inspired, when I read these words by the 19th century preacher J.R. Miller in his beautiful book The Family:
"There certainly have been cases in which very tender love has lost its tenderness and when the cause lay in the disorder, the negligence and the mismanagement of the housewifery. There is not doubt that many a heart-estrangement begins at the table where meals are unpunctual and food is poorly cooked or repulsively served. Bad housekeeping will soon drive the last vestige of romance out of any home. The illusion which love weaves about an idolized bride will soon vanish if she proves incompetent in her domestic management. The wife who will keep the charm of early love unbroken through the years, and in whose home the dreams of the wedding-day will come true, must be a good housekeeper.Ouch. But I believe he is right. He's not just talking about housework, but about all that happens at home: raising children, helping neighbors and trying to lead them to Christ through our words and deeds, being a great wife, mother and friend. Use discernment about going out and participating in activities. Saying "yes" to all that being a worker at home entails means saying no to a lot of other things.
In one of his Epistles, St. Paul gives the counsel that young wives should be 'workers at home,'...signifying that home is the sphere of the wife's duties, and she is to find her chief work there. There is a glory in all the Christian charities which Christian women, especially in these recent days, are founding and conducting with so much enthusiasm and such marked success....There are many who are free to serve in public charities, in caring for the poor, for the sick in hospital wards, for the orphaned and the aged....
But it should be understood that for every wife the first duty is the making and keeping of her own home. Her first and best work should be done there, and till it is well done she has no right to go outside to take up other duties. She is to be a 'worker at home.' She must look upon her home as the one spot on earth for which she alone is responsible, and which she must cultivate well for God if she never does anything outside. For her the Father's business is not attending Dorcas societies and missionary meetings, and mothers' meetings, and temperance conventions, or even teaching a Sunday-school class, until she has made her own home all that her wisest thought and best skill can make it. There have been wives who in their zeal for Christ's work outside have neglected Christ's work inside there own doors...Let it be remembered that Christ's work in the home is the first that he gives to every wife, and that no amount of consecrated activities in other spheres will atone in this world or the next for neglect or failure there."
Here are some of the items I'm choosing to say no to at this season in my life, so I can say yes to my roles as a wife, mom, and home manager (after all, with baking, cooking, laundry, cleaning, homeschooling, raising kids, and enjoying time as a family, there's little time left for much else!):
- Ladies Bible study
- Facebook (a huge time robber, not only for chores but quality family time)
- Excessive playdates (one every few weeks is plenty for us)
- Long phone conversations regularly
- TV (we don't watch much anyway)
- And yes, blogging. While I love writing and encouraging other moms, many days I don't even have a half-hour to spend on the computer. Actually I choose to spend what could be my computer time differently--taking a walk or a bike ride with my family, making breakfast, spending some one-on-one time with my oldest while his brothers are napping, putting away laundry, etc. If it works out to write, I will. If it doesn't, I won't.
Is there anything you can say no to today?