by Katelyn Motsinger
I’d like to think I’m a highly organized individual. I appreciate when things are in order, events are planned out well, and if something needs to be done, I’ll get it done. But, I’m also a “yes” girl. If a friend wanted to meet up for coffee with a day's notice, I’d reply with: “yeah, no problem, I’ll make time!” I thought I had these so-called rhythms of life pinned down. It all seemed to fit in my planner and I balanced it well. Until a season of burn out and grief made it clear; some changes needed to be made.
The first change was realizing I needed to create some healthy and sustainable daily rhythms. Firstly, because God comes first, nothing comes before spending time with Him every day. When I get that straight, everything else falls into place. Then, realizing that if I value myself and the things I need such as sleep, a healthy meal, a workout, etc. then I need to create space for that in my routine.
Though they may seem confining at first, intentional daily rhythms offer freedom if you stick with them. I was surprised at how life-giving it was to simply put my phone away at a certain time each day. If I can’t manage my own day and the things God has called me to do, then someone else (or something else) will.
Our daily rhythms reflect what we value. During a season of caregiving before my mother passed away, I realized afresh that making time to spend time with God, practicing gratitude, and taking care of my body—the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)—were non-negotiables. I had to ask God: “What do you have for me in this season? What do I need to be doing with my time?” After inviting the Holy Spirit to be my guide, I needed to plan accordingly. There was a season where I felt the Lord wanted me to use my free time to write. I had to decline lunch dates with friends to stay obedient.
When I faced burnout, I had to reevaluate where and who I was saying “yes” to. My yes determines what I ultimately am saying no to. My yes shows not only myself, but others what’s most important to me. While sometimes saying the word no doesn’t sound nearly as fun, a no can bring freedom and life. A no gives space to something else. Caring for my body while caring for my mom meant saying no to late game nights with friends. Saying yes to writing meant saying no to coffee dates. I learned the cost of my yes. But when faced with the hard choice of two things that sound equally inviting, I knew I had to say no to one; it helped to ask “which ‘yes’ will impact the Kingdom of God most?”
When I do get a spontaneous invitation, I’m learning there is freedom in answering honestly, even if it means disappointing someone. As a “yes” girl who aims to please, I have often feared the response of saying “no”. But I have found that sometimes my desire to please actually does damage, causing resentment or even bitterness if I said yes for the wrong reasons. I am working on addressing the fear that keeps me silent or from saying “no”, and now be as honest with myself as possible so that I can be honest with others.
I am learning to practice intentionality every day, keeping rhythms that are both sustainable and sustaining. And, when new opportunities pop up, I have a better understanding of the weight of my choices and the power of my yes and the necessity of my no. Jesus said he came so we could “have life and to have it abundantly” (John 10:10.) Abundance is available in the mundane and in regular rhythms, just as much as it exists in spontaneity. I’m learning to live in both of these moments by simply attending to His voice.
Katelyn Motsinger is the creator of Under the Canopy Online - a blog and small business. Whether it be through her poetry, songs, or devotionals, her greatest hope is that her words would reconnect the Father's heart to yours. For more of her writings, visit www.underthecanopyonline.com or follow @Underthecanopyonline on IG.