We are talking about having a life worth living, getting out of ruts we have accepted as normal for our life when they are anything but ‘normal. And, how to get rid of that feeling that life is overwhelming.
Last time we started to look at having the courage to choose what’s best. This involves two main things. We saw that the first one was ‘courage to embrace your limitations’. Today let’s look at the second main huddle to choosing what’s best…
b> Courage to eliminate your distractions
To get out of your rut and stop feeling overwhelmed by life you need the courage to eliminate distractions by saying “no” to bad things and even saying “no” to some good things. You only want to say “yes” to the best things.
Warren Buffett (one of the riches men in the world) has learned he can’t focus on too many things at once. He advices making a list of the top twenty-five things you want to accomplish in the next few years. From that list, pick the five that are most important to you. Now you have two lists. Buffett suggests you “avoid at all cost” the longer one, for those items may well prevent the big things from happening.
To overcome obstacles, that feeling of being overwhelmed by demands and expectations, and to move forward into the fullness of your life, you have to discover the beauty of the word “no.” The practice of a graceful “no” takes courage, but it is certainly liberating.
Here is something that I have learned in my 50+ years of pastoring … If you don’t set priorities in your own life, someone else will.
In her book Learning How to Say No When You Usually Say Yes, Maritza Manresa advises her readers that it’s all right to say no to lesser things to have room for the best things. Most of us say yes more than we should because we are taught to be available or because we don’t want to disappoint others or challenge authority. Maybe we feel guilty, or we don’t want to damage a relationship. As a result, we’re constantly overcommitted, and the greater things are left behind.
Manresa suggests several ways to say no. The first is simply: “No!” That’s a complete sentence. But if you want to be gentler about it, try statements like:
- I’m sorry, but I simply can’t at this time
- I have a personal policy…
- It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to, but if anything changes I’ll let you know
- It looks like I’m going to have to pass this time
- I just can’t fit it into my schedule
- That is such a good cause but I am already supporting other good causes
- No, thank you
Is this hard for you? It is for me too. But we must have the courage to eliminate distractions if we’re going to live the life God intended and no longer feel overwhelmed by life on a daily basis.
Jesus often said no to others so that He could say yes to His Father. In Matthew 16, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus, asking Him for a sign. He said no. He gave them a blunt little sermon instead and left them and went aways (Matthew 16:1-4). In Mark 1:38, Peter asked Jesus to return to Capernaum, where everyone wanted to hear Him. But Jesus said, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
We can’t do everything, but we can always do our Father’s will. We can fulfill His design for our days.
So, learn to say ‘no’ and mean it. Stick to your ‘no.’ Let your no be no! That takes courage but you can do it.
Let’s review what we have learned in this series of blogs …We can live an abundant and joyful life overcoming the feeling of being overwhelmed by the expectations and demands of life and other people if we will simply:
- 1> Consider what’s best
- 2> Clarify what’s best
- a> The priority of loving God
- b> The priority of loving others
- c> The priority of loving yourself
- 3> “Choose What’s Best.”
- a> Courage to embrace your limitations
- b> Courage to eliminate your distraction
Last but not least as we look at overcoming that feeling of living in a rut and being overwhelmed by all the demands of life …
4> Commit to What’s Best
When you get stuck, find some traction to get you out of the rut and moving forward in life once again. God doesn’t want you to live life feeling overwhelmed by the demands and expectations that come at you every day in your life. God does not want you spinning your wheels. Once you get moving, you need clarity to know what direction to move in, and Jesus provided that by telling you to love God, love those around you, and love yourself. Armed with that clarity, you need the courage to stay no to some things so you can say yes to the best things. And finally you need the consistency to practice what’s best. Proverbs 23:17 says, “But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day”.
Paul said that we are to be, “His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
When you do what we have been sharing about in this series of blogs, you’ll palace yourself in the paths God has promised to bless. Even when things appear discouraging, keep pressing ahead, trusting God to make a way. Stay committed to what’s best, for the Lord takes things from there and works wonders. It is not always easy but it is always good.