Choosing the easier road is so much more desirable.
Choosing the more understood path makes more sense.
Choosing the quicker route gets you there faster.
Yesterday, I was unexpectedly contacted with the opportunity presented to me to lead a team to Thailand and Cambodia for three months. It would be college students serving a ministry in the two countries, just like my World Race experience. Immediately upon reading the message, my heart began to leap and dance and then also shake with nerves. Is this right? Should I say yes to it? Is this the direction I am supposed to go in right now?
On paper it seemed perfect. I mean, what was not to love about it? It’s Southeast Asia (specifically Cambodia), community, ministry, adventure, and Jesus. There wasn’t much fault to find in it. Sure, yeah, they were asking me to commit within hours and leave this month. Last notice really isn’t difficult for me. Spontaneous adventure like that feels natural.
So you would be shocked if I told you that I said “no” to the opportunity? Are you shocked? I can hear it now, “but Anne-Michael, you love Asia and most definitely love Cambodia? You love missions and adventure and leading?” all said with a perplexed face.
Yes, I do, to all of those things. And me saying no doesn’t cause them to cease to exist. I hit so many walls of untruth while I was contemplating and asking the Lord about what to do. Untruths that I was giving in to – but I also recognized more of what I truly want.
Me saying no, in actuality, means saying NO to:
>>The pressure of pleasing people. I don’t look very “put together” right now in life. And not having next steps planned can be scary to me and others. If I would have said yes to this trip it would have been giving in to the pressure of pleasing those around me, just for the sake of having something I am doing.
>>Fear of being idle or stuck. In my own mind, I don’t like just being home with no spoken directive, trust me it isn’t fun. I could easily have jumped on to that trip and ran away from transition and being home. It would have been SO much easier.
>>Fear that my dreams won’t come to be. Your mind gets to you sometimes; you think, “oh, by saying no to this, am I ending the possibility of my dream coming to pass?” In which you remind yourself that God is much more sovereign than my one decision.
Me saying no, really means I said YES to:
>>The challenge of remaining and finishing a season of transition. I don’t give myself enough grace. This time around coming home at the holidays, I forgot that I was in transition and just forced myself back into the flow. (Warning: If you are coming back from a cross-cultural setting, don’t force yourself back in!) Now that the holidays ended I am remembering that I have only been home a month and a half – I need to allow myself to be in transition.
>>Choosing a time to myself. My hopes of moving overseas are very real and the expectations for that to happen within the next year so this is a time I can be a little selfish and choose myself. I can be home, have a job, and work on me. Yet again, I deserve that. We all deserve to work on ourselves, because you are important to you!
>>Last but not least, family. In the past 3 years I have been overseas more than half of that. Saying ‘no’ to going on another short-term trip was me saying ‘yes’ to using this time for family and friends that I have been away from for so long. I want to cuddle all the babies and spend the time that I can, when I can.
Just because there are benefits in saying no, doesn’t mean that it was entirely easy. The thought that I could be in Cambodia in March was insane and it took a moment to grieve. At the same time, saying no feels powerful – especially when that no is the harder but better choice.
My eyes and heart are set on being with family while stateside, working on myself, and making steps towards long-term Cambodia. I thought I knew those things but after turning down that opportunity, I realized it even more.
I learned a lot about myself in the whirlwind of those two hours from receiving the message to my final decision. I learned that I am getting past people pleasing now and I am moving more into a sureness of who I am and where I want to go.
I chose the harder path, the one that doesn’t have clear answers.
I chose the harder road, the one that kind of doesn’t make sense but yet it does.
I chose the harder route and I don’t regret it.
Most of the time easy doesn’t take us to where our dreams become flesh – it just alleviates us of remaining patient in the waiting for that dream. Think about what you are dreaming for you, for others, and for long-term – position your yes and no around those dreams.
Know your NO, it will be worth it.