The benefit of saying 'no'

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The benefit of saying ‘no’

Do you ever wish you could leave your frantic lifestyle behind, for a more soulful way of living? It starts by learning how to say the word ‘no.’

Shauna Niequist created a life for herself that consisted of writing, attending conferences and speaking all over the country. On top of that, she was trying to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor. She describes a few key words that could sum up her life at the time:

“The words that described my life those years ago, the biggest words were exhausted, empty, isolated, discouraged. Even the great things in my life started to feel like work, because I was so deeply depleted.”

She found herself trying to meet everyone’s expectations of her, rather than setting healthy boundaries in her life.

“Instead of having a meaningful framework by which I said, ‘This is all I can do, and anything beyond that starts to affect my health and my family negatively,’ I just said, ‘I don’t know, somebody needs me’ over and over.

“I just said ‘yes,’ rather indiscriminately, believing falsely I know now that there would just always be more energy in the tank if I needed it. What I realized at certain point that there just wasn’t.”

Saying no doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be involved, it means that we understand our limits. Shauna describes a turning point when she realized that she couldn’t live this life that, essentially, she had created for herself.

“I had a moment at a hotel in Dallas, I had been speaking at an event; I had done 3 events that month, which is too much. I laid on the bed in the middle of the day with my shoes on, my coat on, everything, and I just said, if anybody else wants to try to live this life I’ve created for myself they’re welcome to it, but I don’t want it anymore; I cannot carry the weight of the life I’ve created for myself anymore.’

Jesus will carry the weight of our burdens for us, but we have to be willing to say ‘no’ to our frantic lifestyles and say ‘yes’ to His peace and rest.


Shauna Niequist is the author of Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life, and Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way. Shauna is a bookworm, a beach bum, an enthusiastic home cook and a passionate gatherer of people.

Choosing to be present over perfect

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