WE are well into our Lenten journey. Lent provides us with the opportunity to listen for God’s voice, to seek His presence and transformation.

Many of us choose to give up something such as alcohol, chocolate, social media and so on. However, I confess that over the past several years I have avoided the idea of restricting or putting pressure on myself, simply because I know I usually fall at the first hurdle. Instead, I tend to introduce a new ‘spiritual rhythm’. 

For example, last year I decided to practice the rhythm of ‘giving back’ rather than ‘giving up’. This year I decided I would practice the rhythm of saying no. Trust me, this isn’t an easy task for this Rev who has a tendency to say yes.

I have discovered that learning to say no not only improves my time management, but also helps me to set boundaries. Recently, I was reminded that Jesus throughout his life and ministry often withdrew, taking time out to rest, be alone, and to pray (Luke 5). One of my favourite authors, Shauna Niequist, said: “Learning to say no with kindness to the things not meant for us yields the freedom to say yes to the things we are called to carry.”

Therefore, it is important to say no and to take time out to withdraw from our often frantic lifestyles, because if we don’t, then we can end up feeling exhausted, discouraged, fed-up, burnt-out and even resenting what we once loved doing. Friends, give yourself permission to know that…

• It’s okay to feel you don’t have any more energy left in the tank. 

• It’s okay to want time out. • It’s okay to withdraw and be alone.

• It’s okay to say no.

Give yourself permission to say no. We need to have the courage to trade the busy for the simple, the hustle and bustle for the stillness, the yes for the no. And yes, this includes putting an end to our people-pleasing tendencies. It is only then that we can we truly enjoy the much-needed refreshment, nourishment and rest that our soul craves.

What do you need to say no to?