fear & striving

white space 9

I have a confession to make.

One of the things that keeps the white space out of my life is fear.

I am afraid of disappointing someone. I’m afraid that if I say no then I will lose a friend. Or if I say no just one time, I’ll never be asked again to do that thing I was asked to do… that I really wanted to do, but just didn’t have the time to do it at the moment I was asked. Did you follow that?

There are times when deep inside I do want to commit. And there are times that I absolutely do not want to commit. And I almost always say “yes” to committing in both circumstances.

I’m a first-born, overachieving, introverted, people-pleaser. I’m also kind of a wimp.

I do not glorify busyness. I do not think that busyness is fun and I don’t feel the need to tell people how busy I am.

Quite the opposite is true. I’m often embarrassed when I have to tell a good friend that I can’t have dinner or can’t get together to let the kids play because I am so over-committed.

I just don’t like disappointing people. I don’t like feeling left out. And I’m afraid that if I say no, I will let people down and I will miss out on something fun that I wanted to do.

But the commitments don’t always work for my family. One of the things that I am committing to moving away from is the feeling like Todd and I are often like two ships passing in the night.

It’s more fun when we put the kids to bed together. And it’s more fun when we have nights at home reading books and playing hide and seek.

Striving is not fun. Looking for ways to make people happy and creating things to do so that I can get people to be happy with me is just selfish. It’s self-centered and not at all life-giving. That’s just the truth.

“Be a noticer, not a manufacturer.”

-Ellen Parker

I don’t want to keep creating commitments. This is the time to notice the gifts that God has given me and to be truly grateful for them. Not to look for ways to gain more gifts or different gifts. Or gifts like someone else’s who seems to have it all.

I am who He made me to be. I am loved. And there is no one else I should be striving to please above Him.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

And as I step away and make room for margin, I know that He is going to move in that space.

This is the 4th post in my 31 Days of Creating White Space .

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  1. says

    “I’m a first-born, overachieving, introverted, people-pleaser. I’m also kind of a wimp.” Me too. I can relate so much with this post, and definitely see the need for margin and white space in my life, too. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. says

    I’m loving your series! So many of us struggle with the concept of white space. It is hard to learn to say no. It isn’t something I do well, but I am getting better at it. It takes time, patience, and prayer. I also think a certain amount of bravery goes into it. It is a learning process and one that is well worth it to our families.

  3. April says

    Since you are being real (which I so appreciate) then I will be real too. Is it bad that one of the things I’ve had to let go of here recently is mid-week Bible study? We have a 3 year old and a 9 week old. My husband is a Deacon, I should probably add. But it’s too hard for us to get dinner fixed in record time and get everyone pack up so that we can drive to church and then I have to wrestle two kids and likely feed one a bottle and I don’t even get to hear any of the lesson. Then we have to rush home and get everyone ready for bed and then just crash into bed ourselves. Honestly it exhausts me just writing all that and yet I feel guilty every Wednesday night because I know I’m consciously making the choice to not go and I know that maybe there are ones there that wonder where we are (although they should be able to figure out that we have an infant). The people-pleaser in me just beats myself up every week.

    • says

      April, I totally get it. We do Wednesday night activities at church and it’s hard getting everyone there and fed by 5:00. I do bible study on Thursday mornings at 9:15, and those mornings are always the hardest for us. I had a moment a few weeks ago when I just thought I’d have to quit for a season. I still may have to do that someday if it’s affecting my family.

  4. says

    I told the hubs that we have something planned for every weekend until Dec 14th. Part of me is excited to have all these fun plans but a bigger part of me is exhausted just thinking about it.

  5. says

    I am loving this series Erin! I had to reread this…”I’m a first-born, overachieving, introverted, people-pleaser. I’m also kind of a wimp” because you are describing me to a T!

  6. says

    I love this! I learned a long time ago, the hard way, that saying no is the best thing I can do for my family and myself. I don’t like to disappoint either, I am definitely the first-born people pleaser too. I tend to get quite a bit of anxiety when I over-schedule. I look around and see a lot of my peers who are on the go, go, go and wonder why I can’t do it so effortlessly! I just have to remind myself that I have a 4 year old and a very busy 2 year old and we all have limits. 🙂

  7. Molly says

    Love this! It totally hit home for me. I’ve been over scheduling and over extending us since Kaden was born. We made a pact last weekend to stop the insanity and stop trying to please all of our friends…it isn’t fair to us and it certainly isn’t fair to the kiddo.

  8. says

    Oh my! I relate so much to all of this. Sometimes, I give a yes, even when everything inside of me is screaming no. If I say no, I feel guilty. I hate letting people down. I’m really enjoying this series. I really look forward to reading more.

  9. Lisa in Dallas says

    I truly hope you find your white space. It’s lovely when you do. Just remember that your white space will occasionally get a little gray on the edges and then sometimes pretty murky in the middle. It’s up to you to take back control but by then you’ll be able to look back and see how life was with the white space/peace/calm/fun/joy and it will be easier to reclaim. Good luck! It’s worth fighting for!

  10. says

    Amen! My favorite statement: “I’m a first-born, over-achieving, introverted, people-pleaser. I’m also kind of a wimp.” I understand completely. I’m the same way, friend!


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