I hear it all the time. Cries from Christian women who want desperately to serve the Lord, but who feel overwhelmed. “I almost dread going to PTO meetings or church services anymore because I just know somebody else is going to ask me to help with something,” they say. “Don’t get me wrong. I want to help, but there are only so many hours in my day. I feel like I’m just going to explode if I don’t get some relief.”
What usually follow these statements are apologies. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to complain. I’ve been blessed with so much that I have no choice but to give back. And I really am glad to do it. Anyway, as a Christian, I’m obligated to say ‘yes’ when called on to help. Plus, if I don’t do it, it simply won’t get done.”
Does any of that sound familiar to you? Have you found those same statements coming from your own mouth? Do you rush around all throughout your days doing for others whether you have time to do it or not? Do you cringe whenever the phone rings and the voice on the other end starts with, “Let me ask you something?” Do you have too much stress, not enough time, and a boatload of guilt for feeling the way you do? Then you most likely suffer from “I Can’t Say ‘No’ Syndrome.”
The Bible Says It’s OK To Say No
While your intentions are probably good, the effects of your actions often turn out to be horrendous. Your husband fusses that you’re running yourself ragged. Your children complain that you have no time for them. You gripe under your breath about everything because you’re so sensitive.
Are you aware that it’s all right to say “no”? In fact, the Bible says it is OK to say “no.” Jesus, himself, clearly took time to rest as can be seen in Mark 4:38 among other passages. Even the son of God (in human form) knew His human body, mind, spirit, and soul needed a break from time-to-time. You, too, are expected to rest and take care of yourself. How else can you make your body a living sacrifice… a temple… as the Bible instructs?
Feeling Guilty Is Biblically WRONG!
This is a real shocker to most people. In cases like these, Satan, not God, uses guilt to sway our actions. Psalm 69:5, Isaiah 6:7, Isaiah 27:9, and countless other passages of scriptures refer to the sin of guilt. Jesus died for our sins. That means, when we repent of our sin, it is wiped clean. There is no guilt.
Satan often uses the ploy of false guilt to overwhelm us. Don’t let him work his tricks on you. This is nothing more than an attempt to keep you trapped and feeling depressed about not spending every minute of every day doing something for someone else.
God doesn’t want you run down and tired all the time. How can you effectively serve Him if you barely have enough energy to get out of bed? Why would He want someone “praising” Him who is disgusted and cranky? Walking the tightrope of “I Can’t Say ‘No’” is not God’s idea of a fruitful life.
There Is A Better Way
Take time for yourself. Have you ever been on an airplane? Do you remember the spiel the flight attendant gave before take off? It went something like this: “In the event of a decrease in pressure, an oxygen mask will fall from the panel above your head. If you’re traveling with an older person or child, please secure YOUR OWN mask first so that you may better assist your travel partner.” Even the airlines know you have to take care of yourself before you can effectively take care of anyone else.
Pray about the things people ask you to do. Actually wait for an answer from God before you give an answer to the committee chairman, the scout troop leader, or whoever else is asking for your help. Others will respect you when you tell them you’ll pray about their request… especially if you really do it!
You are not trapped. There is a way to overcome “I Can’t Say ‘No’ Syndrome.” The first step is admitting you need help. Once you do that, you’re open to living a freeing and more peaceful life than you ever thought possible.
© 2004 Kimberly Chastain
About the Author: Kimberly M. Chastain, MS, LMFT is the Christian Working Mom Coach and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping Christian women make the most of their lives. She is the author of the on-line course, “I Can’t Say No” and Pearls of Encouragement for Christian Working Moms, a free e-book. If you suffer from “I Can’t Say ‘No” Syndrome, visit Kimberly’s site today for the details on an exciting email course that’s sure to set you free! www.christianworkingmom.com/online.htm