I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:14-16 (NIV)
I am reading a book by Vicki Courtney called Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos. While designed for young women, newlyweds and moms of children still at home, much in the book applies to me, too, like the chapter on being a yes-holic. After outlining the results of over extending ourselves and saying yes too often: frantic lifestyle, exhaustion, depression, lack of quality family time, illness and more, Courtney looks at the root of why we become yes-holics in the first place. She notes that many of us respond out of guilt and pressure from others, but adds that often we overserve because we crave the attention and the positive reinforcements we receive when we do. However, those “attagirls” leave us wanting more if our focus is on manmade reinforcement and praise. For example, volunteering, whether at church or our child’s school, might make us look good and even feel good for a while, but if it leaves little room for relationships with our husband and family, it is out of God’s plan for us. Courtney gives a humorous list of ways to avoid being a yes-holic, some tongue in cheek, others that really work. She suggests that we set aside a period of time such as 30 days that we will say no to every opportunity that comes our way or that we adopt a policy that we will wait 24 hours before saying yes. In the last nine months, I have also made some changes in how I volunteer and those changes resulted from developing a mission statement. Using Holly Gerth’s book on God Sized Dreams as well as Chazownby Craig Groeschel, earlier this year, I wrote a mission statement for myself. After identifying my strengths, weakness and passions and after some time in prayer and Bible Study, I determined that my mission statement is: “I am created and called to express my faith through love, especially by telling true stores that encourage and glorify God and by helping others see God’s handiwork in their personal lives and develop their own stories of faith.” Now, when I am offered a service opportunity, I evaluate it according to my mission statement. If it fits, then, I say yes. If it doesn’t, I can say no guilt free with no second guessing. Interestingly, when I adopted that mission statement, I thought it would mean that I would only write books or blog, but God has been sending people my way who either need help with writing their stories or encouragement to do it themselves. I am convinced that not only did God give me the gift of writing, but He intends for that to be my purpose in this life. There is great freedom in saying no to things that appear good but are not the best for us in God’s scheme of things. Writing a mission statement can be one way to set some boundaries. What are you passionate about? What gifts and talents has God given you? Focus on those, say yes to them, and say no to all the others. And remember, life has seasons. For now, your purpose may be solely devoted to serving God by serving your family. At other times, your mission may be broader. Reevaluate your mission statement periodically and see if it still applies. God has a unique plan for you and if you ask, He will help you not only find it, but fulfill it.