Saying No

Our household has been a flurry of stinky basketball shoes, band instruments,  and gym laundry this month.  This increase in laundry and after school activities bring it’s own special brand of busyness that makes me exhausted just thinking about it!  The fact that we have 5, with no less than five differing personalities and interests makes me feel like an amateur juggler who’s suddenly found herself performing for multiple guests. 

We typically, as a family, break bread at the dinner table daily (but always at a different time each night) hashing out the activities for the next day; One’s eyes light up and is thrilled that he’s a busy man, another rolls his eyes and gets overwhelmed even talking about the schedule, while yet another has an activity bag ready to roll wherever the van takes him.  For me, it’s not only the juggle of the scheduling, it’s meal planning, strategic laundry, fitting in shopping and housekeeping.    Bob has his own brand of juggling, working, going to school, studying and keeping up with the outdoor chores.  We both do our very best to connect at least once a day, but it sure is difficult. The other day, my mind drifted and I figured out why older adults are always so tired….they are finally catching up on their sleep from raising their kids! 

In that element, however, is a constant prayer to God as to what He needs our family to be for His Kingdom.  The things we say yes to are equally important as what we say no to.  We weigh all the costs to whatever comes across our plate in terms of time, money, and how it would affect each member.  What are the ramifications to those brothers who aren’t playing?  How does it affect each kids schoolwork? What are the long-term benefits?  Will it affect Church?  We include these questions in our familial discernment for the very reason that what one does, like a pebble in water, affects the entire family. 

The Church has been likened to Christ as the head and we, the members, are the body, the feet, arms, hands, legs, etc.  Just as we belong to the Beers family, we are a member of Christ’s family; belonging  to Christ and the church.  What we as individuals chose to say yes or no to can have major impact on how effectively we mobilize the body.  In our human bodies, when you don’t use skills you previously once had, tend to get lost or rusty; our spiritual life has that same affect.  If we put other things - in our case, sports, activities, individual recreation - ahead of our time with God in prayer, Mass, or contemplation, our limbs atrophy.  It begins in small things, quibbles here, tiny resentments there, but can quickly boil over into major distress. 

I will be the first to admit that saying No is not my strong suit. But recognizing that the things we say no to are as equally as important as the things we say yes to, keeps my eyes on the horizon; it keeps our life balanced and helps us to answer the questions What are the impacts of this decision?  What benefit will it be for the future?  Does this aid us on our journey to eternity?  My kids live in the insta-generation - what is right now. Anything you can imagine can be seen, heard, repeated, and discussed with100 friends at the touch of a button at any given moment of the day. Teaching them now to look on the horizon and their relationship with others and Christ first before their own gains is of major importance to us.  Fostering that relationship within their community of faith, taking a stand for their beliefs, and having a family environment to come home to each night is my most fervent prayer.

So, too, does that effect the Body of Christ.  The better we can mobilize the elbow, the farther the fingers can reach.  The more the knees can bend, the farther the legs can stride.  It takes the entire community, focused on a life with Christ, to make each day matter.   Our family is not perfect, by any means, but its what God graciously gives to us to manage, care for, and hopefully bring back to Him as His servants on earth.   


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