Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)
TITLE: PERMISSION TO BREATHE
By Faithaline Stanislaus
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One of the rules I lived by, was that I must be constantly involved in some form of activity. If I was not being productive, then what was the point? Surely I must be wasting time. Taking time just to think—to meditate, to ponder, to be silent—was unheard of. Yet is it wise to advance into the future without taking stock of the past and gleaning wisdom and insight from previous mistakes and victories? Can people really experience life if they don’t slow down long enough to savor it?
Another rule that I lived by, closely related to the first, was that no matter what I did, it was never enough. I never worked hard enough, or fast enough, or did the job well enough. And really, exactly what had I accomplished anyway? Was it of any significance? Have you ever asked yourself these questions, or had other people ask them of you? But here’s an idea—how about finding your worth and value in who you are—more specifically, who God says you are—and not in what you do? By all means, strive for excellence. But when you fall short, be patient with yourself, and know that you are still greatly loved and valued by God.
Another rule I followed was: never say no to anyone. So what if they made a commitment to someone else without your prior knowledge, in the hope that you’d help them keep that commitment? Or what if through their improper planning, they’re stuck in a bind and need your help to bail them out—again? Do you think you have the option of saying no? Certainly not—at least not unless you want an all out war with Mr. Guilt. After all, you don’t want to hurt their feelings and perhaps make them mad at you. Or worse yet, what if they thought ill of you—maybe thought you were selfish—you could not bear that! It’s time to realize that you’ll never succeed at trying to please everybody. Consider becoming more assertive in your relationships. What if you could give yourself permission to say no? Especially if you know your schedule is already full and adding one more item to your itinerary could seriously cause burnout. If you don’t find time to rest and take care of yourself, who will do it for you? If you allow yourself to get burned out, what good will you be to anyone else?
Have you ever felt like you were responsible for all the problems of every person with whom you’re acquainted? If anyone goes through a bad experience or does something wrong, or loses something, it surely must somehow be your fault. And it goes without saying; you’re obligated to fix what’s wrong. Here’s an idea—you’re not responsible for other people’s choices; it’s not your job to fix everyone else’s problems. Help out in what areas you can, but not to the extent of assuming responsibilities that do not belong to you. You’ve got enough of your own.
Do you ever feel guilty because somebody else is worse off than you are? Do you ever try to make it up to them by making yourself miserable? Sounds logical, doesn’t it? No doubt making yourself miserable will help you feel better. The truth is that God has blessed you, and you should share your good fortune with others. However refusing to enjoy your blessings because you feel guilty does not honor the God who gave them to you. So give yourself permission to enjoy your life. Breathe!