The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
by Claire Musters
Too often my life feels crowded with the endless demands of being a mother, wife, worship leader, pastor’s wife, school governor, freelance writer/editor. At times, I feel like I am slowly suffocating under the weight of it all.
Part of me longs to say, ‘Don’t any of you understand how busy my life is? I have NOTHING left to give you. I’m wrung out now and am going to go and hide under my duvet’.
I feel like I SHOULD be helping all the people I interact with – but there are certainly times when I don’t WANT to. So I feel the weight and pressure of ‘ought to’ a lot. But I also know that God is talking to me about the unnecessary weight I carry about this.
I’ve been attending a leadership training course and during one session we were challenged to look over everything we’re involved in and prioritise the things that are the best fit for where we are at now.
During that process God gently led me to let go of it all and see what he prompts me to pick up again. When Lysa Terkeurst’s latest book The Best Yes was posted through my door something in my heart told me that it was going to be part of that process.
The cover promises much: ‘Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love’, ‘Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no’, Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your best yes today.’ My heart was screaming ‘Yes please’, but also questioning whether a book could really give me all those answers.
When I looked at the first few pages I immediately felt like Lysa was describing me:
‘I’m tired. I’m distracted. I’m disappointed in myself. I feel slightly used and more than slightly used up. I’m a little over-whelmed and a lot worn-down.’
That familiar feeling didn’t leave me as I travelled further into the book. Lysa is disarmingly honest about her mistakes, but also about what God is teaching her about seeking his instructions and being obedient in those seemingly insignificant moments of life.
How the book came about
Lysa explains the idea behind the book: ‘In the Spring of 2013, I sat down with 100 women from across America ranging from early twenties to retirement. I asked them their deepest needs and desires, challenging them to name the real struggles they face in striving to live well and follow Jesus.
‘The answer that surfaced over and over: feeling overwhelmed and empty in not knowing how to make wise decisions in the midst of endless demands. As I listened to them I thought, “me too”. I knew this was the next issue I must tackle in my writing.’
Beginning to question my decision-making processes
This is a book that needs to be worked through a chapter at a time. I certainly needed space to digest and consider the practical points made. I started questioning my current decision-making processes pretty early on, trying to discern whether what I was about to say yes to was my ‘best yes’ – the right thing that I can truly give energy to – or not.
Lysa’s writing also helped me to understand what lies behind the reasons why I am quick to say yes – and the importance of saying no to the wrong things. She was at pains to point out that she isn’t advocating a ‘do nothing, agree to nothing’ approach; it is about determining what it is that is most important to you – the things that you feel called to at this time – and making sure there is space for them.
Lysa gives an example: she connects with her husband each morning by helping choose his tie and put it on. Very simple, but she’s chosen to slow down and connect with him rather than rush off in the morning to get all her activities done. She explains:
‘It’s a moment when we follow the “excellent way” of love. In the intersection of this unrushed moment, we’re again saying to each other: I love you. I love you too… This kind of together can only happen when we choose to experience the thrill of an unrushed yes.’
It’s about relationship
It was great to be reminded of the importance of relationship – with everyone we ‘do’ our lives with. The people we connect with and value in our own lives need to be given time and space – and by doing that we are nourished too. When I reached this point in the book I felt, like Lysa, that: ‘I need to be reminded that my soul needs time for relationships.’
She explains: ‘I’m a task girl. I like accomplishing things. I like the thrill of moving forward, creating momentum, and getting stuff done.’ Me too!
‘But the more I choose to pause and talk and really connect, the more I discover the thrill in the sacred spaces of relationships. Leaving room in my life for the unrushed yes strengthens the fabric of my relationships so that they can better withstand the wear and tear of everyday life.’
Have I now discovered the best yes?
I think we’re each on a journey of discovery with this, and one read through of a book is not going to change my life overnight. But it has made me stop and think. During the process I made a decision that turned out not to be a best yes. I had a nagging feeling that was the case, and learned a lot about discernment through living out the consequences.
Lysa argues that the concept of the best yes isn’t an excuse for not stepping out in faith beyond our comfort zones – there is a time and a place for that. But it is about finding those things that are our assignments. We shouldn’t be coerced into saying yes out of guilt or pressure – or simply because we don’t know how to say no.
Understanding the expectations behind a request
One of the things I found most useful was the section on how to evaluate if a request is unrealistic.
As a pastor’s wife I always feel like I’m letting the side down if I say no, but having juggled too many balls for too many years I realise that I just get burned out and don’t give anyone my best (at last year’s Christmas social for the worship team, for example, I apologised for not giving the team enough time. I have come up with a solution that doesn’t involve me – I’ve asked another team member to co-lead with me. I’m learning! 😉 ).
Lysa’s list of areas to consider when making a decision is practical, useful and freeing. I don’t need to feel like a failure, for example, when I can ascertain that I’m not the best person for the job I’m being asked to do. It does necessitate us being honest with ourselves (ouch) and others (bigger ouch!) …
Here’s her list:
• My time. The schedule required to meet all the demands of this opportunity isn’t in line with the time I have to invest.’
Look – she put that first. So often I can see that I don’t really have time, but I still waste time considering how I can make it happen.
• My ability. I’m not equipped with the necessary skills to carry out the functions of this opportunity.’
Although hard, if we can be honest at this point it will save us – and others – a lot of heartache!
• My money. I can’t afford the financial responsibilities that come along with this opportunity.
• My passion. The responsibilities of this opportunity evoke a sense of dread instead of fulfilment in my heart.
• My season. There is something that must take a higher priority during this season of my life, therefore the timing is off for me to take this opportunity.’
That last one is something that I can struggle with. I have juggled working from home with having children ever since they were babies and, while I love the freedom it gives me (I can pursue one of my passions – writing – while still being there for my kids) I can feel the ache of jealousy when I see others taking up opportunities that simply aren’t viable for me currently.
Lysa also provides some really searching questions to ask ourselves when we are about to say yes to something, but you’ll need to read the book to find out those! 😉
So what now?
I know that in the stress of everyday life I can forget that ‘best way’ of walking step by step with God. Through so much of what I’ve been reading and writing about in recent months I know God is asking me to come closer then serve out of a place of rest – secure enough to say no but free enough to grab those best yes moments with all my might when they appear.
The tricky thing is deciphering when something is just a possible, rather than a best, yes. But I think Lysa hits the nail on the head when she says that often our indecision comes from a desire not to miss out – and from a need to be liked by others.
So would I recommend The Best Yes? Wholeheartedly.
Let me leave you with a great quote from Lysa: ‘Saying yes all the time won’t make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.’
The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst is published by Nelson Books.
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