Tuesday, August 28, 2018

When to Say Yes, When to Say No

It *may* be that I have a tendency to overanalyze life sometimes. It happens under the heading of "evaluation" and could easily slide over into the "comparison" column without intervention. I find it especially challenging with the life we live, one where our family (of eight people) and our home and our ministry and our "office" are often all in the one and the same 1300 square feet of living space. For me personally, my FLORECE days are the easiest in that I go to a specific place for a specific period of time to do a fairly specific job. But my "easiest" days translate into my husband's "hardest" days since the duties of parenting, homeschooling, chauffeuring, chefing, and - if he's lucky enough that the kids finish school early - studying and preparing for weekend ministries all fall into his lap during the 10+ hours I am away from home. Occasionally he might even add hosting to his list if he has the opportunity for a breakfast meeting with a brother in Christ on those days!

There are times when I wish life was so much simpler, and times when I beat myself up for not accomplishing more. The "tyranny of the urgent" is real and exhausting and I struggle with it. When is it important to say yes, and when should I say no? If ministry is about people, how can I not respond in the affirmative when an opportunity presents itself even at the last minute (since that is how it regularly happens in our country of service.) I can cite two instances in just the past week. First, with maybe 48 hours' notice I was asked to set up an informational table about FLORECE at an event where multiple churches in our area would be represented. Since it has been difficult to get into many churches, this seemed like an opportunity I should not turn down. It just so happened to fall on the same day as a full shift at the pregnancy center, so I left home around 8 AM and did not return until after 10 PM. 

The second situation was unique in that a pastor from Santiago gave Pedro's number to a woman from his church who was visiting Iquique to care for her elderly aunt and uncle. It made sense and was more comfortable for my husband if I carried out the communication with her. Long story short, she had to fly home on the same day her 86-year old aunt needed a ride to the nursing home where she would sadly be signing papers for her husband of 69 years (now invalid and bedridden) to move there. I was asked to provide that ride even though I'd never met anyone in the family. It was a Monday morning and a day we try to get a running start to our homeschool week, so even as I said yes I struggled with frustration at giving up that day and conversely guilt over my selfish feelings. 

The more I say yes to people outside our home, the less I can say yes to those living in it. Keeping up with household chores has improved with some added responsibilities the older children now carry; however, laundry is never ever completely done. Meal planning is frequently on the fly and we often "fly" to pick up pizza or empanadas or other yummy, quick, relatively inexpensive but not-so-healthy option. Even as I sometimes feel guilty about taking time away from the kids, I also feel determined that they learn at a young age that life should be less about self and more about service. But I struggle to keep that "one thing" (Luke 10:42) at the forefront of my life and theirs which is the quiet, personal walk with Jesus we need to have as individual believers and as a family. 

This morning we talked about the story of Mary and Martha as we prepared for school. Prior to that I was reminded again that more is "caught" than "taught." As the first big child stumbled downstairs and curled up next to me while I sought to start my day in prayer and God's Word, I hoped he would consider his own time with Jesus today. And in our comings and goings, the ministries planned and unplanned both inside and outside our home, I hope our children see glimpses of God's greater purposes for their lives as well. I pray for wisdom to know when to say yes, and when to say no - and for God's grace to fill in all the places between!

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