Learning to say yes and no is like putting up a new fence. It takes time.
I don’t know about you, but anytime there’s some sort of home improvement project in progress, I start biting my nails.
We just got a new fence put up in our backyard this week, and I’ve been anxiously looking through the window every time I walk past.
It’s probably because I haven’t a clue about how a fence is built. But hey, it hasn’t stopped me from analyzing all the things that might go wrong.
I’m probably hyper-senstive, so I just zipped my lips and went out to run some errands.
When I got home at the end of the day, I was shocked by what I saw. In the place of my old, leaning, cracked fence was… nothing.
I stood there in the doorway, staring at long pieces of wood beams, framing a large empty space.
I looked into neighbor’s backyard. He could see into mine.
I totally freaked out.
Nobody ever told me that it takes more than a day to build a fence.
Early on in life, I learned to say “Yes” more than “No.”
Saying yes seemed to be bring many positive results:
- Got me out of a jam, if someone was angry with me.
- Opened up a lot more opportunities.
- The boat doesn’t get rocked.
- Nobody’s feelings got hurt.
Over the years, however, I’ve learned that saying yes all the time has atrophied the muscles that say no.
Working Out Something Better
Having boundaries is important.
Boundaries are not walls. The Bible does not say that we are to be “walled off” from others; in fact, it says we are to be “one” with them (Jn 17:11).
But, in every community, all members have their own space and property.
The important thing is that property lines be permeable enough to allow passing and strong enough to keep out danger. Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it.
~ Henry Cloud, author of “Boundaries“
I’m learning that it’s important for me to say no, that I can’t meet everyone’s expectations.
There are eight different examples of boundaries given in the book Boundaries —
4. Geographical Distance
6. Emotional Distance
7. Other People
The ones I’m working through this week are time and words.
Time fills up so quickly. What would I be doing, if I was courageous enough to say no?
How would my relationships change if I were honest (and loving enough to myself) to say no? Will I allow God to show me who I am, apart from other people’s acceptance?
If I keep taking the easy way out to say “yes”, I’ll stop growing. It seems safer, but I’m at a point I want to learn something better.
I want my “yes” to God be bigger than the fear of failure, imperfection, or pain.
Filling The Empty Spaces
It ain’t easy, though.
Just like the broken fence in my backyard that needs to be replaced, it takes time to build a new one.
Just like the empty space hanging out in mid-air — we will be exposed. People can see in and we can see out into them as well.
Sure, some backyards are nice and neat. But, not all are.
We can fill empty spaces by saying yes to everything or we can let God fill us with the freedom to say no.
This freedom comes with an initial cost, as we break away from the old. But, the dividends we will reap from breaking free from broken boundaries are joy and peace..
… Where He begins and we end.
… Where He carries the burdens and the results and we let go of the pressure.
…. Where He carries us and we let Him.
It doesn’t happen overnight.
But, it will happen. We need to give ourselves the grace, as we put up one new “board” at a time.
In time, a new fence will be put up. Along with a gate that opens and latches.
“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
What encourages you to build healthy boundaries?
Which of the eight boundaries mentioned could God be nudging you to rebuild?