The cost of saying no.

Have you ever wondered what it would look like to actually tell someone no when they asked you to do something you knew wasn’t right for you?

It certainly did not look like the time I taught fifth-grade Sunday School because a precious mom of an upcoming fifth grader came to me literally in tears, asking me to take the position.  She was concerned about who was going to teach her child that year, her daughter’s last year in elementary school.  She was convinced that if I taught fifth-grade Sunday School the transition from elementary to middle school would be smooth for her child, since I was the youth pastor’s wife.

She was crying, so it MUST have been God’s will for me to teach that class, I thought.

I can assure you it was not God’s will.  That was a miserable year for me.  Not because I didn’t love those fifth graders.  I did!  But I was not supposed to be there and yet I had to stick it out, pregnant, working my tail off as a fourth-grade public school teacher.  I was flat-out exhausted!  {And I will not take this opportunity to mention that those fifth graders have now graduated from college and some are married now because that would make me feel old and I am certainly not old.  Right?}

I mentioned in my last post that we made some serious sacrifices as a result of our season of rest. Each of us had to sacrifice something in order to rest.  Here are some examples:

  • I really wanted to teach a summer session of FPU.  I had plenty of weeks to fit it in and I even contemplated doubling up and doing two lessons a week to get it in a shorter time frame.
  • The boys really (really) wanted to play soccer.  Their best soccer-friend was playing and two of mine found out they would have been able to be on his team…. an all-stars reunion type thing.  It hurt my heart to have to deny them this.
  • PWOC held a summer session and I actually prepared our family to participate, to the point that the day before the first session the boys worked feverishly on school so that they’d be free for PWOC.  And then I felt that clear nudge in my spirit that I was doing the opposite of rest..
  • Most of these have been fairly simple decisions but there was one that took a lot of time, prayer, and discussion.  At the end of last soccer season Hayden was approached by some men after a game, right on the field, and after a minute or two he pointed to me.  I figured that was my queue so I joined them.  They proceeded to go on and on about technical soccer stuff that was over my head and when they finally got to the point they asked if Hayden could join their competitive team.  I told them we had actually been considering that, as we were interested in improving his skills so that he’d be ready for college-level soccer.  And then one asked the question:  How old is he?  When I told them that he was 13 (at that time) their faces fell.  They were coaches for a team of 17 year olds!  I knew I was not about to put my 13 year old on a team of 17 year olds to travel around Texas… NOPE!  Of course I didn’t say that, and they couldn’t have let him on anyway, I don’t think, but they then started conferring right there in front of me regarding which coach he could play for.  My mama-heart swelled with pride for my son who has natural talent but has also practiced for hours on end to hone his skill.  For a while we saved money and were 90% sure this was going to be a part of our life for the next year.  Hayden did make the team and was contacted by the coach.  And then a piece of wisdom from a friend floated back to me and, when combined with the Lord’s nudge, I was the first to really feel like this wasn’t going to be a good fit.  The advice from that friend was that some high school travel/competition sports careers can end up costing about the same as tuition for an in-state 4-year-college.  I could see this being true, especially with the size of Texas and the distances the teams travel.  Finances were a part of our discussion, but they were not the deciding factor.  Ultimately, we didn’t feel that this activity fit into our vision for our family.  While we are happy to spend hours on upon hours at local ball fields watching our sons play soccer, we knew we didn’t want to sacrifice as much time as would be required to travel around Texas.  And just a couple of years later, Carson and then Bailey would be at that level, and we’d have two or three travel teams’ schedules to keep up with, all in the name of chasing a few college scholarships.  The questions started coming at me like gnats on a muggy summer night:
    1. What if Hayden decides he doesn’t want to play soccer in two years and wants to try tennis, but we’ve already invested so much time/money/effort into soccer that he feels he can’t change sports?
    2. What if he decides to major in something that requires so much time that he can’t play soccer for his college and we had spent four years chasing a soccer scholarship?
    3. What if playing on this kind of team takes the joy out of soccer?
    4. What if he worked his tail off for four years only to injure himself the last year was and not even be able to play?
    5. What if he didn’t want to play anymore but felt he couldn’t tell us for fear of letting us down?  He’s very conscientious like that and I could see him trying to suck-it-up so that our time/resources weren’t wasted.
    6. What would our lives look like down the road as we had to travel to different cities on the same weekend, Matt with some kids, me with other kids?
    7. What would it look like if Matt deployed and I couldn’t physically be in two cities at the same time?  Which kid would have to miss his game?  Would there be a family I could trust to take care of my child for a weekend?
    8. What would Parker do for the thousands of hours by the sidelines?  I’m all for little brother tagging along wherever the family goes, but this seemed to be a lot to ask of him.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 5.18.39 PMI know that these questions have answers, and that we could have resolved them one at a time.  I know that there are other families out there that make this work.  I know that for other families, sports are worth the sacrifices, but I know for ours, the questions hitting me in the face were the Lord’s ways of making me look realistically at what our family would have to endure in order to make this work.

One morning before the kids woke up Matt and I talked about this.  He and I agreed that for now, and for the foreseeable future, competitive soccer was not going to be a part of our family.  We were both sort of disappointed because honestly, we want to see just how good Hayden is.  We know that there would be a learning curve the first year, transitioning from the recreational level but we really think he could handle that level of soccer.  At this point, we had to agree that this particular team/league wasn’t going to work for us.

I decided to spend a few days praying that Hayden would receive the news well.  I prayed that even while I was praying his heart was softening to the idea.  That he wouldn’t be too disappointed; that he would see the reasons why and know they were valid; I prayed that the peace I felt over this decision would translate during our conversation; that our chat would go well and that I’d know how to break the news to him; that he would feel a peace about this decision.

A few days later I put the rest of the kids to bed and made milkshakes for Matt, Hayden, and myself.  We sat on the back porch and for the first few minutes just sat there and chatted.  We specifically encouraged him in what we are so proud of him for.  And when it was finally time to break the news, his response was a simple tilt of the head and an, “ok.”

That was IT?!?  Yep.  We talked for a few more minutes and we could see clearly that Hayden had completely understood our reasons.  While he hated he wasn’t going to get to play with his best-soccer-friend, he knew this was the right thing for our family.

I was so proud of him!  It was hard telling the coach but he understood, and we have not felt one moment’s hesitation since.

In order to keep white space in our lives, and in order to really take in this season of rest that we know we are called to, major sacrifices were made.  And some of those decisions weren’t just for a few months of rest, but long-term.

What is it in your life that is making you feel too busy?  What can you remove from the schedule to give you white space?  Are there activities your family is participating in, GOOD things, even, that might need to be reconsidered in order to maintain a more healthy pace of life?  Military families are fortunate in that every few years we are given a clean slate.  We move from one location to another and literally clear the calendars.  If you are in a PCS season, be very deliberate about what goes back on your schedules.  Just because your family participated in an activity at the last duty station doesn’t mean it should automatically be put back on your schedule at the new one.  Take this benefit of the nomadic lifestyle we live to make positive changes in your life’s pace.

Without a doubt, it costs us something to say no, but the peace gained is very much worth the price.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
This entry was posted in About my faith, brothers/boys, family, military and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The cost of saying no.

  1. Pam M. says:

    Awesome post…so true…even “good” things can take away from what is the best the Lord has for us!

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