Saying No When I’ve Already Said Yes

October 24, 2012

My sister Sarah is 20 months older than me, and when we were kids, she was my translator.  For a while, my mom was a little worried I wasn’t talking more, but when she asked our pediatrician about it, he told her I wasn’t talking because I didn’t have to; Sarah talked for me.

One of the stories my dad tells a lot is about me answering every question with a “no,” only for Sarah to pipe in: “She says no, but she means yes.”

Then, my nos were often yeses.  These days, my yeses are more often nos.

I’m one of those people who says yes to a lot of things – to too many things – because I sincerely, truly, want to do everything.  I want to make people happy.  To use all my gifts.  To do a good job.  To do everything anyone asks me to do.  And if you ask me to do something, and tell me how good you think I’ll be at it?  If you tell me you’re asking me because you’ve thought about it and no one could do it like I can?  Well, heck.  You’ve said the magic words.  That’ll be a yes.

And it is my greatest, purest intention for my yeses to be yeses.  Because I want to fulfill what you’ve envisioned.  I want to pour myself out the way I know I can, to see all my vision and passion and fire become real.  But what I’ve found lately, is that if I say too many yeses, some of those yeses can only turn into nos.

Six months ago, I was asked to take over the leadership of a website for women who are moms and wives and Christians and entrepreneurs.  And I said yes, because I believed in it, because I saw what it could be and that excited me, and because, if I’m honest, I was flattered.

But before that yes had come other yeses: yes to Simon and Adlai, yes to a photography business, yes to writing and editing contracts, yes to this blog.

And so, within a few months, the weight of this Yes was too much to bear.  And I had to step back.  To say no.  It was no one’s fault but my own, for being carried away with the idea of what it could be, what I could make it.  And, truthfully, carried away with a little bit of self-importance and an inflated ego.

I want my yes to be yes, but sometimes when I make a mistake, when I say the wrong yeses, my yes must become a no.  And then I must bear the consequences: disappointed friends, a bruised ego, even broken professional ties.

It’s a lesson I’ve put off learning for too long, and I’m saying yes to it now.

Yes to knowing that no is better than disappointment down the line.

Yes to becoming the dependable woman I want my friends to know.

Yes to saying no when it’s hard, so I don’t have to say no when it’s harder.

4 responses to “Saying No When I’ve Already Said Yes”

  1. Oh girl. Speak straight to my heart…exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Hope your time in NC was awesome and that you felt warmth and peace when you arrived back at England home. Much love to you, friend!

  2. Chloe says:

    This is great Faith you are an amazing woman! X

  3. saraheoliver says:

    love you girl. you rock. and i’m glad you said no to the gf christmas market. i felt really honoured by it! for real! our little girl is all grows up! (swingers)

  4. This is an amazing read for when I just woke up :). Nothing like an inspirational post about learning how and when to say No to start my day right! I too am guilty of the “Yes’s” especially when it comes to friends, but somehow something or someone always suffers down the road, whether it be my sleep, or lack thereof, my blog, my other personal relationships and so on…

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