Have you ever found yourself carrying too many plates?
One of my daughter’s chores is clearing the table after dinner. Lately I’ve noticed her carrying more dishes than is wise, trying to make as few trips between the dining room and kitchen as possible. Given the [very] short distance between the two rooms, I wondered about her behavior.
After I’d noticed it at dinnertime, I began seeing her do it in other settings as well. Picking up her toys around the house, helping me put away groceries, carrying overdue library books out of her room – every time, she was carrying too much, straining as she juggled, refusing help when I offered.
“I’ve GOT it, Mommy! I can DO IT myself!”
At first I thought maybe she’d been exposed to too many episodes of the Rachael Ray Show, something I watched nearly every evening during that first year or so of motherhood. (Have you ever noticed how Rachael opens the fridge one time – and one time only – and carries 47 things over to her workspace?)
Thankfully, I don’t think my kiddo’s little brain soaked up anything so specific during those early days when I worked all day and my husband worked all evening. Bottle in one hand and remote in the other, I parked the two of us in front of cooking shows and cop shows every time the second shift seemed too long and lonely.
As the holidays turned into a call for resolutions a few months ago, I turned the page on a new calendar and decided to declare this my own year of . . . something. My Year of Maybe.
By the end of last year, I had backed myself into a corner by saying yes to too many great things. I felt overwhelmed and helpless to find a way out of the situation. After all, I’d agreed to everything. And everything on my plate was something I enjoyed. It was a real pickle.
Thankfully, after a lot of soul searching and hard decision-making (and whining . . . there was whining), I managed to clear my plate a little bit this spring. And as soon as I did, I gave myself a little shake and recommitted to my Year of Maybe.
From now on, I decided, each time an opportunity came up, I’d respond only with a “maybe” and a promise to think about it and give my answer soon.
Finally, I’d learn to say no.
I’d find some balance.
I’d avoid those awkward conversations when I had to confess I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my commitment after all.
Of course, changing my yes-girl ways is easier said than done. Just last week I agreed to help with a project before the person asking had even finished describing what he wanted me to do. I didn’t say maybe. I said, “Yes! Sure! I’d love to!” – without giving it two seconds of consideration.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I had done it again. I don’t have time for this project. Honestly, I’m not even a good fit for the task – it’s something I’m not good at and don’t like doing. And yet . . . “Yes! Sure! I’d love to!”
Obviously, my Year of Maybe is a work in progress. And now that we’re halfway through the calendar year, I can see it might take me more than twelve months to figure this thing out. I guess I’d better call it a Season of Maybe.
But for now I have about 20 phone calls to make for the community fair I agreed to help plan.
Are you [too] quick to say yes? Have you ever declared a Year of Yes, No or Maybe?Leave a Comment
A Season of Maybe — Giving Up on Perfect says
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Grace @ Composed By Grace says
Mary, too often I am quick to volunteer to fill a need at church before praying and thinking. Although service is admirable, the enemy loves nothing more than servants of God so burned out that they quit. So, I try (emphasis on try) to remember to wait 24 hours before I say yes. I am learning that it is okay to say “Can I let you know tomorrow?” or “I’ll have to get back with you.”
Mary Carver says
A 24-hour buffer sounds like a good compromise – and one I need to try!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Wonderful post! I must say that I have finally learned to live in the season of “Maybe”, but it’s only taken me 52 years to get there (I’m a slow learner). As a reformed perfectionist and “Yes” sayer, I’ve learned that everything that is offered to me is not necessarily God’s will for my life. Maybe, what I pass on is an opportunity for someone else to bring glory to God. Who am I to hog all the good stuff?? I applaud your season of “Maybe”. I wish I could have read your post, oh say 20 years ago! Thanks for sharing!
Mary Carver says
Bev, that’s exactly what I faced – all good things are not God’s best for me. Uggghhhh, that’s so hard to truly accept! It may take me a couple more decades to really get this concept, but I’m trying! 🙂
Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) says
I am like Grace – quick to volunteer before really praying about an opportunity. I think a lot of times if I would just really stop and pray about it, God would give me the answer whether it be yes or no, more quickly than I think.
Mary Carver says
You know, it’s interesting that you say that about God giving us an answer. It makes me wonder how much of my quick yes tendency is a lack of faith that God will show me the best answer. As in – “I might as well say yes, because nobody is going to tell me what to do…” Hmmm….that’s really making me think!
Yes! Yes! Yes! (Okay, slightly strange way to begin a comment to a post about the word maybe). In college, I would say yes to practically every opportunity available. All it did was leave me exhausted and frustrated. I would read about resting in the Lord and think it somehow didn’t apply to me. Yet as a post-grad I’m slowly learning that not every opportunity is one that God wants me to take. Thanks for the encouragement!
Mary Carver says
Lesley, I love that you’re figuring this out now – and so enthusiastic about it, too. 🙂 Seriously, I wish I could’ve started learning this one years ago (but am thankful for the conviction now!).
Becky M says
YES! This is my year to cut back. Thank you for these words. Mine is due to health though. I need to “wind up” some projects, resign from some organizations or at least from my roll in them, and lower my stress level. I am having some problems with my vision and I want to concentrate on certain things. I am carefully asking God where to go so that I am still in His will, actually I think I will be more in His will once this is done. Thank you for your words.
Mary Carver says
Becky, it sounds like you’re being extremely wise about how you approach your new season. What a blessing to find yourself more in His will despite health issues.
Beth Williams says
I tend to dive quickly into different career choices. I say to myself–Hmm that sounds interesting yay let’s do it. Then after working in that field for a while I realize that I don’t like it, not good at it & want out. Do I pray before making the leap–heck no!
In a sense I am just like you all. Now if we could all be in a season of Maybe–& pray more about volunteering/jobs whatever that would solve a myriad of problems & truly frustrate the evil one! 🙂
Mary Carver says
I’m guilty of that in my career as well, Beth. 🙂
Beth Coulton says
OH this is SO me! I am often way overcommitted because I’m a party girl and just want to be busy and have fun ALL THE TIME. Recently ,I’ve slowed down and changed my ways though. We’ve just started attending a new church, and since we were VERY active and involved in our old church, we decided to put the restraints on and hold back on every ministry we wanted to JUMP into right away. It’s been about 6 months now, and I recently got an e-vite to a lovely women’s ministry event. I had three choices of response – Yes, No, or Maybe. Amazingly, I had the presence of mind to guide my computer mouse from the Yes box over to the Maybe box, and clicked it. Success! I then took some time to find out a few things; to find out if I could actually move a few things around to clear my schedule so I could go, and also to see if, after a little time passed, I even WANTED to go.
Turns out I DID want to go, and when I atended the event last night, I had a blast and even signed up to do more. It was a big difference approaching this event and ministry as a “maybe” instead of a “sign me up-I’ll do anything” person. It’s taken years to learn this lesson but it’s so worth it!
Mary Carver says
Thank you for sharing your experience, Beth. What a difference intentionality – and seeking God’s wisdom and guidance – can make!
Patricia Kay says
Yes, THIS year was declared a Year of No.
After reading Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing and discovering what God was doing in my heart, I was able to say Yes! to things regarding the ministry and the people God was leading me to and No! to all other requests. The other requests were good, possibly even wonderful things, but they just didn’t fit with how God made ME. At this halfway point of the year, I am learning that I must even limit my Yes! in order to do the Yes! things WELL. Thank you for sharing and for reminding me today that I have permission to say No sometimes!
This is me! You’ve described me to a “T”!
Season of Maybe, huh? Yes! I’ll do it with you!
Seriously, though, your words speak for me too, and I do want to learn how to say “let me think about it” before taking on commitments.
Sarah L says
Love the Rachael Ray comment. I think of her crazy ways often when I’m getting things out of the fridge. Now, I’ll think of this post. I’ve learned through working with students to let them finish what they are saying (or complaining about). Sometimes they are asking and will need an answer, but sometimes they are just venting. Also, sometimes when they are asking a question about content, when they ask, they can explain what they think if I wait. So, no “years of yesses” but “semesters of pauses (before answering)” has helped me.
Lisa G says
I’m a recovering ‘yes’ woman myself, having spent the past 31 years of my life saying yes to please others and feel worth-while. It is indeed a tiring way to live.
Learning how to wait to answer is my new method – because if I give myself 10 minutes to half a day before saying either yes or no, I’ve usually allowed a good enough time to seek God, weigh the pros-and-cons as well as look at my calendar.
Thanks for showing that I am not alone in this process.
Alicia McCormick says
A year of MAYBE… That is such a beautiful concept.
I’m definitely a “yes” person, and always find myself overworked, stressed, and burned out. So I resolve to clear my plate and start saying “no” to everything, which just leaves me feeling useless and discouraged.
But perhaps by saying “maybe,” I can begin to take the time to think things through and really consider if it is the right thing to add on. I can practice moderation – something I have never really been good at but know I should work on.
Thank you for your words and your insight.
Kristin Taylor says
I needed to read this. Right now. Thank you for practical encouragement.