There's a curse in the realm of hospitality, or opening up your home, your space, your life when you become the "doer," the "Yes" person (adoringly called the 'Yes'ers'). And it doesn't take hard examination within a crowd of people to see who the 'doers' are.
The doers are the ones who are reliable, even at a moment's notice. They don't make you feel bad for asking if you need help. They are more than willing to cook a meal, have you over, drop what they are doing, because deep down, they feel like they are betraying humanity by saying "NO."
I love doers. I love their generous heart and willingness to love selflessly. I'm a doer for the most part. What drives me to be a doer or a 'yes'er' is my deep seated conviction to love those who are in need. I grew up in the church and us 'doers' & 'yes'ers' are praised, why wouldn't we want to keep reaching for the affirmation stars? We tend to relate to Martha, because she was getting the job done. Our world needs a lot more 'doers'--don't you think?
And yet, here's my problem with doing, saying yes and being hospitable.
These group of people (myself included) don't know how to say 'no.' Those who have been raised in the church hear "serve faithfully," or my least favorite, "If you want change, then be the change." You know why I abhor that mantra? Because when spoken to the ones who are faithfully giving of their time & resources, opening their homes, optimistic that it will get better--it creates a 'Savior complex' and burnout.
When is it okay to say no for these people? When is it okay to put perimeters on giving of self & home? How can we still be givers of hospitality with boundaries & clear limits?
1. Seasons of Life
Our family is definitely entering one of those seasons with our third child pushing through to life outside the womb. Probably not the best time to take on new jobs or enter into new relationships.
You as a doer get to evaluate your season. Is it one of transition? Are you barely making room for your own family or close friends? Maybe then...you can cut back in this season and not feel guilty about it.
2. Make a List of Your People
After evaluating your season, make a list of those that God has given to you to tend. In my life it's my immediate family and a couple close friends.
I personally do not do as great a job of keeping up with my extended family and would like to do better in this (guilt-free). Distance makes it harder.
Ben and I will talk about who we would like to have over or want to invest into. Some of these people are not our closest friends, but people we have invested into and want to catch up & share life with.
3. Knowing How to Say No
You as a doer keep saying yes. You feel deeply. You see a need that no one else is responding to, so your heart strings get plucked and you act. By saying no, you may think, "How can I miss out on an opportunity of loving & caring?" You feel a duty to be faithful no matter what. This is why you say yes over & over. I know this.
And I'm going to be honest with you that I don't always have the answer, or think it's clear cut, as to when you should say no. That said, I do find it healthy & essential to go through periods where one is exercising restraint from doing to be still & restful.
Practicing a Sabbath, one day set aside to not do anything, which feels obligatory is a helpful way to start. Learning to be still. Allowing others to do for you, while you sit. Learning to say no is just as much about learning to say yes to those around you who want to do for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how you balance your life within this paradigm of doing & saying yes, while not getting burnt out.