May I be totally honest with you? I hate saying “NO!”

Everyday, I’m presented with exciting opportunities, needy relationships, and pressing engagements that tempt me to “come and follow.”  Activities and adventures that seem so much more fulfilling than my daily duties and obligations beckon me and draw my heart away from home.

I’m spring-loaded to say YES. I’m surrounded by a culture that affirms my YES. And, I’m influenced by others who seem to successfully live their own YES decisions.

Everything in me just want to say YES!

But yet, there’s a still, small voice in my head and heart reminding me that sometimes, the best YES… is a NO.

Sometimes, NO is the priority answer. Sometimes, NO is a safety net. Sometimes, although it’s so hard to say, NO is exactly the right answer for my heart and life and it’s exactly the right answer for my family’s hearts and lives, too.

Don’t get me wrong! I say YES the majority of the time… But, more and more I’m realizing that for every YES I say, I’m choosing a corresponding NO response. In reality, every time I say YES to one thing, I’m in essence saying NO to another.

When I stop to remember this truth, I’m challenged to make sure my YES answers count. Not just for that immediate moment, but for eternity.

When my children were all very young, I suffered terribly from Wanderlust! Some days, it was almost impossible for me to Just.Stay.Home. I wasn’t content with the dailyness, (boring reality) of my everyday life and I desperately wanted to get out and just go. Somewhere! Anywhere! It didn’t matter where as long as I wasn’t “stuck” at home.

Too often, I gave into that wanderlust and we all paid the price with late meals, unfinished work, and cranky, napless children.

It’s taken many years and a concentrated purposefulness of heart to overcome my tendency to wander. That’s not to say the temptation is gone, but I’ve learned to resist it more consistently. Well, most of the time anyway!

Although when I was first learning to say NO, I sometimes had a twinge of envy over what I thought I was missing, I honestly never regretted the times I made a carefully thought out NO decision. There were, however, countless times I said YES, and then regretted being bound to a commitment that I just couldn’t escape!

Interestingly, when my kids were all small, I absolutely understood the need to be home more and in the car less. There was such a clear correlation between discipline issues and rearview mirror parenting. You know what I mean… barked instructions conveyed from the driver’s seat to the back seat accompanied by glaring eyes in the rear view mirror!

I saw how much more successful my children were when they had peaceful days at home.

I realized how much calmer I was when we weren’t rushing out the door. I even began to enjoy the days that we stayed home and did “nothing.” (Nothing, of course, except for school, laundry, meals, laundry, games, laundry, chores, laundry, baths… yeah, just a normal day of nothingness!)

In the back of my mind, though, I looked forward to the day that all of my children would be teens. I assumed that once they were all finally teens we would be free to run around more. No more schedules and routines, spontaneity could rule and we would be footloose and fancy-free. We’d go with the flow and forget the clock and calendar.

I was wrong!

Today, surrounded by my teens and young adults, I’m finding that my NO is more important than ever. As easy as it has become to say YES without reservation, my family needs NO just as much, if not more, than they did before.

When I say NO to running around and YES to a quiet evening, I’m modeling what it means to have some precious down time. I want my kids to realize the importance of stillness. It is in their times of stillness that they will hear the voice of God. Too much busyness drowns out Jesus and leaves them (and me) dry and spiritually exhausted.

When I say NO to time with friends and choose instead to stay home with the family, I’m opening the door to precious conversation. I want to know my kid’s hearts. Those deep, heart-connecting conversations just won’t happen if I’m always running out the door to yet another appointment. Even when it comes to my married children, when they arrive home to visit they need intimate one-on-one conversation, not another shopping trip.

When I say NO to a quiet home and YES to a houseful of teenagers, I’m showing my own kids just how much I treasure their friends. I really do love all of my children’s friends, but unless I say NO to my hobbit-like, hermit-like tendencies, I lose the opportunity to put that love into action. When I love their friends, my kids feel loved. It’s a win/win for everyone!

When I say NO to what’s good, in order to say YES to what’s best… I am blessed!

Consider those activities, those needs, those relationships that are demanding your YES right now. Is your YES the right response? Or, is the best YES, perhaps a NO? Only you and God can answer that question!

Today, I’m praying for us all that we’ll never settle for a mediocre YES, when the best YES is really a carefully chosen and God-honoring NO!

*Wondering how to determine whether or not you’re making the best “Yes” decisions? Take a moment to look at your calendar and checkbook. Where your time and money go is where your heart is inclined. Are you making YES decisions that will honor God, develop your (and your family’s) relationship with Him, and further His kingdom? If not, what changes must you make in order to ensure that your YES choices count for eternity?