Saying No So You Can Say Yes

You’ll have to say no.

No to the third-best thing you could be doing.

Or the second-best thing you could be doing.

Even to what you “should” be doing.

Not should in the immediate, practical sense. Responsibility is part of being a grown-up that others can love, share life with, and depend on.

But no to that life you think you should live. To that particular skillset that others have told you you’re good at, but that doesn’t do anything for your circulation.

The thing that doesn’t do anything for your wings.

I’m not saying you should quit your job. You might even stay at your job for the rest of your life.

I’m not saying you should neglect your family.

But every day, there should be those hours, or at least minutes, where you soar.

You’ll have to quiet voices that say you can’t.

You’ll have to say no to a lot of good opportunities.

You’ll have to quiet the second– and third– and fourth– best things you could be doing.

To focus on that one thing you should be doing first.

You’ll have to sacrifice. You’ll have to be disciplined. You’ll have to get up early, or stay up late. Or say no to lunch with the gang. Or to an hour of mindless browsing on Facebook.

The soaring never comes to a baby bird just leaving the nest. It comes after hours of flight practice.

Soaring never comes from competing with others. When you run, you should run against yourself, testing your limits, knowing who you are.

Soaring comes from saying no and quieting voices, so you can yes to the one thing you need to do.

Saying no is hard.

It makes you feel guilty. It makes you feel like a disappointment.

But how tragic to be say yes to everything but your calling.

How tragic to come to the end of life and be a disappointment to yourself.

Look in the mirror and say you will do it. You will take one tiny step today towards freedom. Not freedom from a job or repsonsibility. But freedom that Frederick Buechner talks about when he says —

“Your calling is where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.”

That kind of freedom.

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