The Best Yes Study: Release The Clutter To Receive Peace

chaos

Are you loving this book?  Is every chapter revealing something new to you about how you’ve been setting boundaries in the wrong places?

Well, it certainly has for me.

And Chapter 8 on Considering the Trade nearly knocked me over with its insight.  You see, I’m a life hoarder.  I’m very sentimental and keep things that have “meaning” even if it means we have an attic of boxes of memories.  I hate to miss out on opportunities so instead of checking to make sure everyone that wants a chance to speak or lead or manage or teach gets it, I accept the offers.  There’s more clutter in my life than just in my attic.  That’s when Lysa says this:

How do we discern what to call clutter and what to keep?  I want to cover that tension of feeling like I’ll regret missing out on an opportunity if I release it to make room for another.  I don’t always want to let that opportunity or that thing go.  I wrongly think I can just add more and more and not get overloaded. That fear of release keeps me in a place of clutter and chaos.  The Best Yes, Chapter 8, p. 95.

Are you still standing?  Maybe your closets are lean and orderly and your attic is empty and your life reflects that mentality as well.  But I would hazard a guess that I have a few friends in the clutter and chaos boat with me.  And she’s right – we, especially in this particular space and time on Earth, are scared of releasing things (whether it be the little black dress we haven’t worn in three years or the invitation to a party) for fear we’ll miss out on SOMETHING.  What I’m really understanding, this year and through this book, is that chasing something means we lose everything.  We forego full, peaceful, and strategic living because we’ve filled our life with what isn’t really important.

One other important point here, sometimes we don’t say no to what we should say no to, but sometimes we don’t say anything.  We technically don’t issue a yes but we delay the decision.  And not making a decision is actually a decision.  It’s the decision to stay the same.  The only way to diminish our regrets is by making decisions that lead to peace. And peace requires from us some sort of release.  (p. 98)

Once you are committed to cleaning out the clutter in your life and in your yeses, then you are ready to make wise decisions.  But, as Chapter 9 illustrates, wisdom requires practice and it can be work.  I love the verse she uses, it’s always been a favorite of mine out of Proverbs 2:

If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will…find the knowledge of the God.  For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright…he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path.  Wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 

Don’t you want that?  To be able to discern what is right?  Wisdom and discernment will PROTECT you!  It will protect you from the wrong yeses and direct you to the strategic nos.

Now it’s your turn.  Share what clutter certain decisions have brought?  What peace could you gain by offering up a no?  And how have you become wiser in your decision choices over the years?  What has helped you discern the right answer?

The Best Yes Study: The Courageous No

best yes

If you are joining us in our book study of Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes, we’re looking at Chapters 4 and 5 today.  (If you want to catch up, just click that leadership link – because making room for your best yes is definitely a hallmark of a successful leader.)

I don’t know where you’re at in the process of setting the boundaries God would call you establish, but because of the particular place I’m at in my journey two passages struck me in particular.  One, was this last call to action from the end of Chapter 5 that I’ve quoted above – The Courage To Say No!  Because friends, sometimes it takes some serious bravery to say no to seemingly good things in order to carve space out for the best.

The second passage was right there at the beginning of Chapter 4 aptly titled, Sometimes I Just Make it All So Complicated (is that just me? do you complicate things too?):

There are other decisions we simply need to say yes or no to and move on. Find that courageous yes.  Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it. And move on without all the complication. Sometimes it just comes down to that deep whisper within that says, “Uh-huh, yes.” Or a simple, “No, not that.”

This just happened to me this past week.  I had an opportunity that had all the hallmarks of what should be a “YES!”  But something didn’t sit right.  I didn’t say no but I also didn’t say yes.  I said, “we’ll see.”  I really wanted it to be a yes.  But something far deeper inside of me said that it wouldn’t.  Then I received a letter with a request and every single cell in my body sang out, “YES!”  It was undoubtedly a yes.  It was a yes that was in direct conflict with the first opportunity.  I immediately turned down the other choice and sent in my yes to the second request.  Something in me had known.  Many of my decisions are not that easy.  But this one, instinctively, was completely straightforward.  Don’t complicate the easy decisions, even if it seems contrary to what might “appear” on the outside to be best.  There will be plenty of hard decisions ahead.

Lysa shares a passage from Philippians that tells us we are capable of discerning what is best if we layer knowledge and insight on top of the discernment: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best… (Phil. 1:9).

Wisdom makes decisions today that will still be good tomorrow.  As we seek knowledge and insight, we will make wiser choices in our yes and our no.  And don’t allow your fear or your emotion about what the choice is or might appear to others to complicate an otherwise clear choice you have discerned.

In Chapter Five, Lysa asks a question that all too often we skip over when the decision isn’t clear, Could this fit physically, financially, spiritually, and emotionally? 

She goes on to share what to do when you are conflicted, as I often am, about whether your response is Yes or No: Whenever there is a conflict between what we feel we’re expected to do (anyone been there? their yes is a slave to their expectations?) and what we feel we should do, it’s time to step back from the decision.  Seek clarity from the only source free of the entanglements of misguided opinions and unrealistic expectations. God.

All too often, those around us bring their own expectations to our decision.  And if we care about them, it clouds what our choice should be.  We do the same things to others.  We bring our personal wishes and perspective to try to influence others yeses and nos.  Sometimes, you must step back from all of those competing demands to clear your head.

I have had a series of choices in the past few weeks.  Ones that historically I would have embraced with a resounding yes.  However, there are several reasons my no has issued instead.  The first question is does it fit physically?  I have committed to so many yeses this year, that I have had no time to work out and I am completely and utterly exhausted.  Very few yeses fit physically in this season of my life.  Next, financially?  Often, the yes would be a financial plus so there is no drawback there.  Spiritually?  This may put me in conflict because I know God put a desire in me to connect and encourage other women.  So the yes would enable me to do that.  But it can also drain my alone time with God. As an introvert, I need alone time to build my faith.  Finally, does this fit emotionally?  Ahhh.  We fly by this need too frequently.  Once again, after a year of too many yeses, I am emotionally drained.  I have so little bandwidth and that reserve I must save for my husband and children.

When I evaluate my decision on this scale, instead of an external measure of success, it frees me to make confident nos.

Now it’s your turn?  Do you ever complicate an easy decision even though you know deep down what the choice should be?  And are you measuring the complicated decisions on the right scale?  Share what stood out for you in Chapters 4 and 5.

When You Run Away Only To Miss Him

He loves to talk on the telephone.  Sort of endlessly he’ll talk.  So you slip out of the conference to say hello to him, all of them, before bedtime.

You know it’s hard.  Those rushed calls with background noises on either end of the line that prevents you from catching anything but snatches of sentences and garbled words.  You “uh-huh” and “Ohhhh” as best you can until the call passes the ten minute mark.  Then you start to get a little impatient and stop replying with the same enthusiasm of a momma missing her babes and move into the tones of a rushed businessperson.

So by the time the kids are off and your husband finally has the line, you barely remember to ask him about that important meeting he had that morning and how he managed to hike to the farm with three preschoolers in varying stages of having colds.

You wrap up the conversation to hurry back inside only to sit in a room full of mostly strangers and your heart cracks a little that you didn’t spend longer on the telephone with the four people in the world who matter more to you than anyone else.  Nearly instantaneously you miss those jumbled, beautiful, competing voices.  Miss them hard.

It’s like rushed is your default now.  Life is caught in snatches with background noises threatening to drown it out.  Everywhere you go you catch yourself running in one direction only to miss the direction you came from.

Rushed has to stop being default.

And you have to stop running to anything taking you away from your true love.

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This weekend I went to a unique conference that is very precious to me because some of my dearest friends in all of the world are there.  I’ll write about some insight I picked up along the way.  But more than anything, what I received at this conference was a further confirmation that I’m needing to take some time for quiet.  My call to step away, from all the things that so easily entangle me, for a season.  A break from the leading and the speaking and any external commitments that don’t involve my four people or my job.  Because in all the busyness of this year, I didn’t just lose an urgency to serve my family with a passion, but I also lost the urgency of seeking God so regularly as to be certain of what He would have me do in any given day.

So I called them back.  And the next night I sat in the quiet of my room away from all the frenzy and talked as long as they wanted.  And I’m calling God back for a longer conversation too.

That’s all you have to do.  You call back.  You make time.  You stop rushing.

 

** As a part of my endeavor to rush less, say  no, and set fresh boundaries, I’ve decided to spend the remaining leadership Tuesdays this year doing a study of The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.  You’ll have a chance this week to win a copy if you’d like to join and gain some insight on finding room for your best yes.

For My Friend Being Stretched

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Dear Friend,

All too often, the stretching leaves you sore and aching.

You wonder why you’re doing all this stretching and if the ones asking you to move so far out beyond your limits even know why they are asking or if they have an achievable goal in mind.

I don’t know why you are being constantly pushed and pulled in this season.  I do know how hard it is.  Because I’ve been in that season too.

And a part of you really just wants to throw in the towel.  To stop working so hard only to be told your best wasn’t good enough.

You want to lead well, and up until recently, you thought you were.  Then this season hit and you aren’t sure of anything anymore.

I don’t know the specifics of your situation or if you are being guided by strong or weak leaders or if this path you’re on is even the right one.

I only know one thing in this leadership push and pull – keep your compass pointed at true north.

If you hold fast to your faith and your values and your core beliefs, the stretching will only test and approve that core.  These challenges will refine you, they will not define you.   {===>Click To Tweet}

I cling to these promises when battling through a season testing my limits and capabilities:

I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Phil 1:6).

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will (Rom 12:2).

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

Believing this, and more, for you today.  Keep stretching.  Hold fast.  Hang on.

We’re in this together.

The 40 Day Un-challenge

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I don’t know why every time around my birthday I end up in challenges or learning seasons.

Two years ago, 39 days before my 39th birthday, I embarked on the 39 Things Challenge inspired by an article in the New York Times about how we needed so much less STUFF to live on that we actually use.  I went back and read through all of those pieces of the challenge and saw how I had grown, but then how I have allowed all the stuff back into my life without any hesitation.  It reminds me so acutely that I can do anything for a few weeks, but it is going to take a lot more work, a lot better new habit development, and a lot more relying on God to actually get where I am trying to go: less stuff, more faith.

One year ago, I ventured down the 40 Days to 40 Journey.  I felt like there were some big things ahead (I had NO idea, this year has been an absolute whirlwind), and wanted to spend time focusing ten days each on being a better mom, a better wife, a better worker, and a better person.  Some of the stuff stuck.  Some of the areas I’m actually worse today than I was a year ago.

I don’t have any grand challenges this year.  Not until I can learn how to keep the new habits engrained and thriving.  Instead, I’m joining a good friend of mine’s church (virtually, they are in FLORIDA!) as they embark on Mark Batterson’s Draw The Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.  The idea is to draw a circle around a promise God has for you, and then pray regularly, every day for 40 days, about it.  Because all too often we pray about something and then fail to keep after it, and we forget to recognize God’s hand as it appears in a situation we prayed about.

I don’t have something specific I’m praying (yet).  I all too often fail on more specific ideals I plan or target.  I love that the introduction to the challenge gives you the permission not to know: Pray about what to pray about.  God will reveal a promise, a problem, or a person.  Then circle whatever God has prompted you to pray for with the same kind of consistency with which the earth circles the sun.

I’ll admit, I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch.  As I mentioned, due to a fair amount of travel this month you won’t hear a lot from me in the next few weeks, and it couldn’t come at a better time.  In this season of struggling, I’m craving the quiet.  I’m ready to hear what’s next.  So no grandiose plans for this year’s 40 day challenge.

I started Draw the Circle yesterday and read from II Samuel 22 as my prayer.  There’s a powerful excerpt in the middle of the chapter that, if nothing else, I’m praying.  Each Bible translation says it a little differently – this is my favorite:

They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.  He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (NIV)

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. (ESV)

 He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me. (KJV)

I have this picture of a wide open field.  Fighting uphill to finally encounter the vista.  And regardless of the words used for the place you reach, each version concludes with the reason why God brings you to this spacious open place: He delights in you.  He delights in me.  I can certainly pray, even without certainty, for a spacious place for the next 40 days.   

 

Photo Credit: Mike Cattell