Breathing Room – Day 5
By Sandra Stanley

Neh. 6.3

  • I admit it: I’m a people-pleaser. (You too?) I’ve realized there’s something incomplete about that title, though. Being a people-pleaser also means I’m a people-disappointer. Working late to please your boss means disappointing your workout buddy by skipping the gym. Joining the book club to please your friends means disappointing your spouse by missing family dinner. See? Every yes to please someone is also a no that may disappoint someone else.If you’re like me, you pay for this people pleasing by giving up your breathing room and trying to do it all. I’ll eat dinner at home and just be a few minutes late to book club! As we wrap up our look at breathing room, I want to share an Old Testament story—specifically one verse—that changed an entire season of my life. Hundreds of years before Jesus, the city of Jerusalem had been conquered and pretty much destroyed. Rebuilding the walls of the city was urgent, and Nehemiah was the guy leading the project. One day, he received an invitation, and his response became a defining verse for me. Nehemiah said, “…I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”At the time I first heard this verse, I had three little kids at home, I was homeschooling the oldest, and my husband was launching a church. We had zero breathing room. And yet, it was so hard for me to turn down invitations and opportunities.What I found in Nehemiah’s statement was permission to prioritize the most important people in my life. Being a mom was my “great work.” I couldn’t “come down” to join that committee or to speak at that women’s event. Saying yes to these things would mean saying no to the “great work” of my family. Ladies, we can give ourselves, our time, our money, and our breathing room away until there is nothing but leftovers for the ones we love most. Instead, let’s bring back our breathing room by giving our loved ones first dibs. And to everything else, we can simply reply, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”

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