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I’m finding I have to say “no” a lot these days.

And I’m wondering, why is it so hard?

I mean, I realize there’s only so much of me to go around. I understand the need for “margin” in my life. And I try to walk with God, ask him where he’s leading as I make decisions. I’ve got a pretty strong sense of what I’m supposed to be about, and that helps me know what I’m not supposed to be about.

But even still, I find myself flinching, sometimes freezing inside when I have to come to a decision and the decision is “No.” No, I can’t help you. No, I can’t come. No, I don’t have time to hang out. No, I can’t take this call.

Why is it so hard to say no?

Is it because I grew up in an alcoholic home, learned to carry unhealthy burdens, felt obligated to take care of others?

Is it because I want people to like me, and I’m afraid they’re going to think,  “Eldredge is a jerk?”

Is it because I fear I’ll miss the will of God, that he is in this or that request and I’m afraid I’ll blow right past something he is in?

Its probably D) all of the above. But as I reflect a bit more on the internal workings of this, I think the common thread is that I want to be thought well of.

And it makes me realize how crucial it is to get my validation from God. It’s hard to navigate all the needs and demands in a broken world. Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you,” meaning, there is always going to be more need than you can meet. It’s hard to navigate my own motives. The enemy is a constant accuser. There is just no way out of this mess except to place the verdict on my life in God’s hands, and to draw from him the validation or correction on how I’m living. If I have a settled confidence in his opinion, then I’m free to live. If I lose sight of that, o man, it makes a mess of things.

“God, how am I doing?” I need to take my bearings here. It’s the only true north.

 

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About John

John Eldredge is an author (you probably figured that out), a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God's love, and learn to live in God's Kingdom. John met his wife, Stasi, in high school.... READ MORE

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