Tuesday, August 10, 2010


"Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But only a few things are needful - really, only one. Mary has chosen the better part, and it shall not be taken from her."

Call me Martha. Much to do, too much to do. My feet hit the floor in the morning and my brain is already whirling through a list of what must be accomplished in the day ahead. Shower, dress, breakfast, chores, school, go-go-go-go.....

No, wait a minute. Stop. Just STOP.

After 46+ years on this planet, I am finally learning - learning a teensy bit - to just stop. To abbreviate my own plans and goals. To resist being swept into the chaos of other people's busy-ness. But saying No is not easy for me, for this Martha.

Circumstances have required me to develop fluency in saying "No" to my children. "No, we can't stop at McDonald's." "No, we are not going to the theatre." "No, you may not have that video game." Saying "No" when there is actually a choice - when "Yes" is a legitimate option - is a little more difficult, but I'm learning that ability, too.

Saying "No" to those outside my home has also gotten a bit easier. "No, I can't serve on this committee." "No, I will not be attending that fraternal event." "No, we will not miss church to help clean up the Junior Culinary display at the fair."

Saying No is so not easy! My husband runs a close second for hardest-to-tell-No. Somehow, I've picked up the absurd notion that, as a wife, my answer to my husband should always be, "Yes. Of course." But I'm learning, I'm learning. Sometimes, the loving answer is "No" - not because I'm defiant or want to be in control, but because I'm increasingly aware of my own limitations, my own inabilities. The charade is fading. Superwoman-who-can-do-it-all is disappearing. The real Camille is emerging, and often, the real Camille simply cannot do all that is asked or desired.

Who is Number 1 on my hardest-to-tell-No list? Myself. Maybe because even if I tell myself No, myself just keeps rattling on inside my head, refusing to have an end of the discussion...."No, you do not need to eat those cookies." "Okay, but maybe a little ice cream would be okay instead. You know - dairy. It's good for me." - OR - "Do not take on that additional responsibility." "But it's actually something I enjoy doing for once. And it's such a good opportunity. And, well, somebody needs to do it!" If my kids talked back to me the way I talk back to myself, they'd be due for some serious discipline! But I'm learning to tell myself No, too, and to stick to my guns. I'm learning, slowly.

So what is my encouragement to you today, dear reader? My encouragement is this: don't wait half a lifetime, like I did, to learn to say No. Start today. Plan to say No. Say No. And then stick to it. Why? Because fluency in saying No makes life a little less crazy and much more pleasant. Because saying No increases appreciation for Yes. Because saying No means...

...you have time to be Mary instead of Martha. And Mary, we all know, has chosen the better part. The eternal part. The part which shall not be taken from her.

Learn to say "No," and then discover the real beauty of saying "Yes."

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