Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Know Your No.

I never thought saying no would be hard for me. We joke at my house the J can never tell anyone "no" and is always over-extended. We tease. We prod. We shake our heads. But is it really as easy as we make it seem?

"Just tell them you are busy."
"Can't anyone else do it?"
"What about your family?"
"Make up an excuse."
"Just tell them you don't want to."

Seems easy. (Maybe harsh, but easy). Right?

Last week I was asked to take on a major responsibility next year: a student teacher. This is only my fifth year teaching, so I consider it to be a huge honor. At first when I saw the email, I was dumfounded. Me? Did they get the right person? Really? Really!
But after a few minutes the shock wore off...

Oh no. Mentoring. First Grade. Master's classes. My own life? Too. Much. Stuff. The list of other things consuming my mind and keeping me at school at all hours of the evening and weekend piled up. Could I do it? Do I want to?

I was afraid to talk about it with anyone at first. I wanted to know what I thought before I heard the thoughts of others.

I just couldn't get over the mountain of other things already piled high. Then my thoughts shifted from me to her. Will I be able to devote enough time to her? Explain things to her? Listen to her? Support her? Encourage her? Lead her? Prepare her?

It was through this searching and thinking that two things became apparent. First, I really really really wanted to do it. It would be fun! A new experience for me (selfishly). A huge honor. A way to stretch myself as an educator. A way to give back. Second: I just didn't have the time. She deserves someone who can devote themselves to her future. She will need someone with patience. She might not get the full experience she deserves if I am over-extended.

So, when the phone call came. I had to "know my no". I didn't feel it in my heart, but I knew it in my head. It just wasn't right. Even after the flattery and little lines of guilt were dropped. I had to stand firm. "I am sorry, but I have to say no."

Hard words to choke out when your heart is screaming... "Maybe I can do it...?"

Let your "no" be "no" and your "yes" be "yes". (Matthew 5:37). I hope I did...


  1. I love that verse at the end of your post. It certainly ends it with the final Word. If you felt it in your heart and your knew your no, then you did the right thing. It is certainly hard to do it, though. Congrats on being able to hear your no through the racket around you.

  2. Bravo--it was hard, but you did the right things for the right reasons. There will be other chances.
    My favorite phrase--"know your no". I may have to use that (who me? need something like that?)
    Thanks for writing this.