It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review. While I have certainly read some good books, I haven’t managed to sit down and write about them. But this one requires passing on, The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeurst. Our flurried, broken, overextended-in-every-way American culture is a living, breathing example of many examples of “you reap what you sow”. Instead of breaking down that reality, may I just say that despite very intentional efforts not to live inside the crazy…sometimes it seems impossibly hard to step back, step aside, step OUT of the continual myriad of activities. Nearly all of them GOOD things. The amount of extracurricular options is staggering. Whether you are married with kids or without, single, young or old….there is nary a shortage of ways you could spend your time and energy.
One particular aspect of this that I find it difficult to navigate is the mentality that if you don’t offer your children a plethora of options, be they flute lessons, karate, a spot on the baseball team, chess club, horse back riding lessons, 4-H, drama class, choir, soccer, art lessons and tickets to a play or five at the local kids theater, that somehow they will be cheated of a “well rounded” and “rich” upbringing. The array of “good things” here is at best mind-blowing. And at worst, well, I don’t know. I suppose I would just venture to say that this way of thinking is a plague in our culture and in fact, learning to have some white space or margin in your life is perhaps one of the very best tools parents should empower their kids with.
It sounds easy right? But its not. Even having moving out of the city into a more rural area, there are so many things one can do! I have done much quiet thinking about it this past year, a year that left me gasping for breath and feeling like I could not, would not possibly be able to continue on the same path. A wise mother said to me just last Tuesday while listening to me wrestle out loud with the too-many-options dilemma, “I have come to a place where I honestly believe, if my child has a very exceptional, genuine kind of gift at playing piano or baseball or something….that talent will well up and emerge regardless of my ability to provide copious amounts of lessons and instruction in its realm.” I breathed a sigh of great relief. And my heart agreed.
If I believe that God’s plans for the lives of my children will not be thwarted by my inadequacies and imperfectness as a parent, then I can instead invest in loving them well, building strong, healthy relationships, providing a solid, vibrant foundation for their lives. Which I’ve come to believe MUST include having a weekly schedule that has room in it to breathe. I absolutely must, as a mother who seeks to walk in wisdom, learn how to make thoughtful decisions for our family and for my own life that reflect a measure of having ‘counted the cost’ of each and every spoken and unspoken YES in my life.
This is where the book by Lysa comes in. I ended the summer feeling terribly unready for the year ahead. Still struggling to bounce back from last year. When I read the tagline under the title, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, my head just nodded and I clicked ‘place my order’ before the book had even been released. It is practical and so well breaks down the reality of every “yes”. Yes to one thing means a no elsewhere, this is the part I hadn’t learned to think through very well. I just kept on with yes’. I would liken it to writing a check on an empty bank account, eventually the debt is in your face and you have to deal with it. Lysa breaks down, wonderfully well, various ways to learn to cultivate this sort of wisdom and also delves into why it matters so much.
I am learning to weigh my yes and to really sift through all the implications it will have. Slowly, albeit, but learning nonetheless. Just yesterday we were at the pumpkin patch, having great fun with my sister as we have done every year for at least 8 years in a row. I started to get anxious being there, knowing that in two weeks our homeschool group is going on a group trip to another pumpkin patch. I feel obligated to go, my mind had already relinquished to having to go. But as I thought more, talked it out loud a bit, it was so clear. Yesterday was my “best yes”. Two weeks from now will be my wise “no”. And in that, I get to practice something I am not good at, giving grace to myself. Grace to say “one pumpkin patch trip with my six children is all that I can manage this year and that is okay, more than that, it is wise and good”.
If life feels a bit over the top and you aren’t sure how to proceed or how to grow in this aspect, this book is an excellent, very worthwhile read. Really, just about everyone I know fits into that description in some way! My copy is heavily highlighted and written on, which is one of my best measures of good books. Beyond that, my life is incorporating the practical wisdom from the pages and that is surely the best part.
Here are a few snapshots of our one and only wonderful pumpkin patch trip this weekend: