Lifestyle, Military Life

Learning to Say No

June 17, 2013

I missed a blog post last week. Maybe you didn’t notice, but thanks if you did.

Last week was a bit intense, the sort of adventure that is best told in the past tense. That’s why it came a week delayed.

In past tense, the adventure sounds brave and valiant, a hurdle that’s already been conquered. It’s easiest to tell stories as a victor. But in the present tense, while the plot is still unfolding, the story can sound raw and whiny. Real adventurers don’t whine, which is why they have to be careful about present-tense blogging.

Early last week, Mike got some news about his military orders. It was good-ish news: good news for a wife that wants to stick to a mellow life in San Diego, and “ish” news for a Marine that wants to get back to the Fleet for an adventure in uniform. This tension between military and family is always complicated, a pull between two good things, a dance between two different kinds of adventure.

Then a couple of days later,  we had to make a hard decision about involvement in two local ministries. Both included people we absolutely adore. Both had missions we believed in. But we couldn’t do both anymore. We had to pick one.

Mike and I really love investing in the local church. We love pouring into people and turning strangers into friends.

But sometimes you pour and pour and pour until you realize one day that there’s nothing left in the cup. You’ve poured your whole self out, and it feels like you haven’t slept in 97 days.  Then you show up to places as a lackluster version of yourself, a tired, weary, distracted version.

That version keeps resisting the 24-hour time limit on each day, drinking iced coffee while eating chocolate-covered espresso beans. (done it. couldn’t help it.)

That version really doesn’t help anyone. Except for Starbucks. It helps Starbucks.

And on the empty cup day, you realize that you’ve been trying so hard at so many simultaneous activities that you’ve become ineffective at all of them.  Then comes the jack-in-the-box epiphany.

Full adventure requires specificity. focus. limits. It demands the occasional but strategic use of this really simple word.

No.

I have to close my eyes to say it, because if I keep my eyes open, I feel the need to apologize.

No!

Even proactive adventurers have to use this word.They have to choose their adventures wisely, saying no in necessary places…even in places they’re already invested waist-deep… even when it’s hard to walk gracefully out of waist-deep water.

Adventurers need both yes and no, a dance between precaution and pursuit.

Last week we had to learn how to dance again. The whole week was  a pushing and pulling between two good things,  deciding between different kinds of adventure.

Sometimes no is easy,  like when my husband makes dinner suggestions or when my dog licks her lady-parts.

But sometimes no is hard. Most of the time it’s hard.

But it’s also good-ish, providing a necessary pull towards balance.

It’s always best to talk about these things in the past tense, because the adventure looks brave and valiant that way, a hurdle already conquered.

In reality, it’s always hard to walk gracefully out of waist-deep water, to say no after getting used to yes.

In present tense, you might not look very valiant or graceful. You might actually look like an elephant trapped in a human’s body, trying  to stomp over waist-deep water.

But it’s okay. You try. You dance.

You say yes. Then no.

Pursuit. Precaution. (repeat)

  • Mike

    I think I make great dinner suggestions! What’s wrong with Golden Corral?

    • Mike

      Or what about the Doritos Locos Tacos at Taco Bell? Who can say no to Cooler Ranch taco shells?

      • Mike

        Okay last one.. I think this one is definitely the best option. Wienerschnitzel has a deal, 5 corn dogs and 5 chili dogs for $9. How can you turn that down?

  • http://twitter.com/Andrew_Stroud Andrew Stroud (@Andrew_Stroud)

    “Full adventure requires specificity. focus. limits. It demands the occasional but strategic use of this really simple word. No.” Great stuff Bekah and very true. Excited to hear how God blesses this new adventure! And Mike, “What’s wrong with Golden Corral?” Nothing my friend. Nothing at all.

    • http://www.thehappyones.me Bekah

      Andrew-
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I believe a lot of the written words here were inspired by a certain conversation in which you played a large part. Thanks for speaking into Mike’s and my life and for coaching us into greater specificity. We really appreciate you!