― Kimberley Baker Guillemet
Like many of us, I have a whole list of things I would endeavor to accomplish if I had unlimited amounts of time and resources. I would increase my morning devotional and meditation time. I would take up piano again, practice my Spanish more often and even pick up another language, or two. I would write another book. I would remodel our house to make it bigger so that we can host more family and friends. I would travel more often, and widely. I would engage in more regular and more intentional self-care practices. The list goes on and on.
But I don't do these things in the amount and with the regularity that I would like to. And some of them I have not started at all. Why? I have told myself that I do not have “enough.” I don't have enough time. I don't have enough money. I don’t have enough resources. I don’t have enough of whatever is needed.
A few weeks ago, I was challenged in that mindset by a sermon by Pastor Steve Furtick. He likened the “not enough” mentality with a scarcity mindset. Upon hearing this, I immediately felt uncomfortable. I thought, Does this apply to me? Seeking reprieve from conviction, I initially rebuffed the thought, telling myself, I am a master at time management and I'm quite frugal. I really, actually, truthfully do not have what is needed to accomplish the things on my aspirational list. I need more time. I need more resources. I need more money. I just need more.
But then I thought some more and asked myself, Do I?
My husband and I discussed the issue a few nights later and as we talked, we remembered a time in our marriage when we made less than a third of what we make today in salary, but still had to clothe, feed and house the same four children we have now. We remember praying for a salary increase so that we could make ends meet. Since that time, God has provided for us in spades, such that not only have all our needs been met, but we have been able to bless family members, friends, and even strangers with time, resources, food, company and more.
Yet, here I am, still saying that it's not enough.
Really, when is it enough? When do we decide that we have enough? I have had to challenge my thinking in this area and what I have come to realize is that it becomes enough when I decide it's enough. Please understand that I am not advocating a delusional mindset where we convince ourselves that we have resources that we do not or time that does not exist. The reality is that time, money and other resources are indeed finite. However, we have choice in how we use them. We have choice in how we choose to steward our money and we have choice in how we utilize our limited time.
Starting from a foundation of grace and understanding that nothing in life has perfect timing or execution, I'm giving myself permission to allocate time and resources to pursuits that give me joy and that I feel help me fulfill my purpose and mission on this planet. Of course, that cannot be to the exclusion of required activities that ensure that we're able to feed, clothe and house ourselves and provide for those who depend on us. However, I don't believe that our heart calls us to move in specific directions and engage in various endeavors for no good reason.
As we close out 2023 and prepare for 2024, let’s give ourselves permission to come from a mindset of abundance and assume that we do indeed have enough.
― Jelani Clay
Since I posted my blog last month, war has erupted in the Middle East and thousands upon thousands of lives have been lost. We are inundated with information and images chronicling the atrocities by and through all forms of media day in and day out. Some of us may feel a sense of responsibility to ingest large amounts of this information and imagery for various reasons. We may want to show solidarity or bear witness to the events from a remote location. And in addition to the events happening in other parts of the world, in the United States, we continue to navigate our own tragedies, many of which have become commonplace: alarmingly high rates of homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, suicide and and all manner of homicides. For many, hope seems elusive, to say the least.
Though I am not a psychologist, a psychiatrist or a therapist, I am a human who has been able to navigate adversity with my sense of hope intact. People often ask me how I have been able to retain a positive outlook despite having to walk through some very difficult moments and experiences, some intensely personal and private, and some collective and shared.
The answer is mindset management. In addition to holding tightly to my faith, I vigilantly guard my mind. Just as we are what we eat, what we ingest is what we become. What we put into our hearts and minds matters. The media that we consume, the books that we read, the people with whom we choose to spend our time, the music to which we listen, all have tremendous impact on our sense of emotional well-being. This is not to say that we should not remain aware of world events and extend love and show empathy toward our fellow humans. Quite the contrary. I believe that it is our responsibility to show care toward other humans who are navigating tragedy--both directly and indirectly. And if we are able to lend a helping hand, it is our duty to do so. However, we cannot expect that constant inundation with negativity will bode well for our mental well-being over time. It will eventually take its toll. I believe this is especially true for young people.
I encourage you to guard your heart and your mind. Be intentional about the time you spend ingesting difficult and/or tragic events. Give yourself the space and grace to rest, both physically and mentally. Allow yourself to experience joy and celebrate the good in the world and in your life.
― Henry Cloud
As a professional woman, a mother, a friend and community member, I can personally attest that boundary-setting is at the heart of my self-care and self-preservation regime. As much as people do not like to hear the word “no,” the reality is that sometimes, the answer is simply “no.”
No chaser. No explanation. No justification. Just, “no.”
I posit that a well-timed “no” is appropriate and effective in a variety of circumstances and relationships.
Parents must become adept at utilizing the word “no" as it pertains to their children. Children may posture as though they want their parents to say “yes” to their every command, but in truth, they crave boundaries. In addition, despite their often brazen approach, many of them are fearful that their parents might actually say “yes” to some of their more outlandish requests. Children need parents who are willing to stand for what is right and draw lines in the sand when a request or proposition violates set boundaries or values. I believe that the lack of boundaries in our society has significantly contributed to the deterioration of mental health observed among children and young people over the past three years. At the onset of the pandemic, many parents and educators were so focused on appeasing children and keeping the peace, that many of them completely abandoned boundaries and rules. It is well-established in the child development field that children need rules and boundaries to feel safe and that includes hearing the adults in their lives sometimes tell them “no.”
Working professionals need to learn the art of utilizing the word “no” in the workplace as well. Employers and companies are focused on their bottom line which has to do with productivity and efficiency. They are not in the business of ensuring the well-being of their employees. As a result, it is imperative that each individual is intentional about setting the boundaries needed to maintain their own work-life balance. That will sometimes mean declining a new project or assignment, especially in situations where we can sense that one additional responsibility will tip us over into unwellness.
We must also learn to set boundaries with our loved ones and friends. It’s never easy to tell someone who wants to spend time with us socially or who enjoys the pleasure of our company that we are not available. However, if acquiescing to the request would disrupt or derail sacred time that we have set aside for ourselves for our self-care or mindfulness practice, or even conflicts with a set obligation such as church, or a child’s soccer game, which may seem mundane to others, but is really important to us, we should feel free to decline without hesitation or guilt.
Sometimes saying “no” will be unpopular. And yes, sometimes people will engage in judgment and unfounded conjecture because they may feel rejected. However, “no'' is just sometimes imperative. Not only is answering every request in the affirmative unhealthy and not sustainable, it is grounded in “people pleasing,” a practice that never ends well for the people pleaser. We know that the same people who are making the demands of us to relentlessly give of ourselves until we have nothing left will be nowhere to be found when we are internally gutted, emotionally rattled, and in some cases, physically incapacitated.
We must say “no” for the sake of our own well-being, and, often, for that of others.
The same people who today are demanding a “yes,” will respect you more tomorrow after you have said “no.” Moreover, they will benefit from a better, more fruitful relationship with a healthier, happier, more rested and grounded you.
As it is said, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”