saying yes to saying no.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who had problems saying no.

You know, just say no and all that (thanks, D.A.R.E. I’ve since forgotten everything I learned in fifth grade about how to resist drug abuse, but I’m sure it was helpful.) I consider myself a strong, independent woman, by which I mean am can be stubborn. Just a bit.

But if you’ve been around these parts for a while, you might know that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and  maybe an overachiever and perhaps control freak wouldn’t be too far off. Throw those together with two time-consuming majors and a slight inferiority complex that is the result of having two genius brothers, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster that results in 22-credit hour semesters. Let’s talk about poor life choices.

I’ve always felt the need to do it all, and to have it together. Or at least, look like I’ve got it together. 4.0 GPA. Involved in church. Always smiling. I’m fine.

College has been a hard and messy and painful and beautiful journey in letting go of control. Letting go of perfection. Learning to trust. And if I may say so myself, I think I’ve grown a lot since my freshman year when I basically laid on a couch and cried to my small group leader about being afraid that I was going to pick the wrong second major and ruin the rest of my life.

(Okay, so maybe I’ve got a bit of a flair for the dramatic, too. Just a bit.)

But I’ve been learning that it’s okay. It’s okay to not have everything together, and it’s okay to let people know that. I’ve been learning that I don’t need to earn people’s approval, or their love, and I certainly don’t need to earn God’s.

He calls me Beloved.

And that is enough.

So this semester, I’m learning to say no. To say no to an outrageous course load. To say no to a student group that I want to join, but don’t quite have time for. To say no to only accepting straight A’s from myself. To say no to expecting perfection.

I’m giving myself permission to say no. Making space for selfcare, because it only took me three years to realize that sometimes, my mental and emotional health is more important than my grade point average. And when I say sometimes, what I really mean is always.

But saying no also means saying yes. I’m saying yes to investing more in relationships. To taking care of my body and my soul. To delving ever deeper into the Word. To believing that my worth is in the Lord and that will never change.

I’m finding freedom. And in that freedom, I’m finding peace.

when peace won’t be found

It’s funny, isn’t it, that in a year in which I’m supposed to be learning about peace, pursuing peace, so far there has been very little of it.

(there has been, in a way – I am ever the procrastinator, so instead of tackling my lengthy to-do list, there has been a lot of tv watching and reading and napping occurring.)

but a large amount of my time has been spent worrying. worrying about how I’m going to get everything done (ever the productive one), worrying about raising money for Africa, worrying about spending five months – five months – living in another country. worrying about traveling to Africa, worrying about come back. worrying about senior year and graduation and let’s not even start on what the heck I’m going to be doing after graduation (hint: I’m worrying about it.)

I’m trying to keep a list of gifts, blessings, thanks, to teach myself contentment with all that I have already. Most nights I sit there and stare at the page, suddenly realizing that I’m not sure what I’m thankful for. Some nights I don’t even bother to reach for the notebook.

I open my journal and sit on my bed, crosslegged with the pages splayed open in my lap. I pick up my pen, write the date, and usually little else. The words don’t come. Words of pain, frustration, joy, seeking, it doesn’t matter. Whatever is in my heart refuses to leave, refuses to let itself be brought into the harsh light of pen and paper and scribbled handwriting.

Peace, as it turns out, is a lot more complicated than it seems.

Peace means trust and faith. Peace means contentment and thankfulness. Peace means surrender. Peace means living life with an open hand, ready to give whatever is asked and receive whatever is given. Peace means obedience and willingness to follow.

I think it’s less about chasing peace and more about letting go, handing my life over, and waiting for peace to find me.

peace be with you (and me)

I’m trying this new thing this year, this OneWord thing. The premise is simple: pick one word, just one word, for 2013. No long lists of goals and resolutions. One word to focus on, to learn about and from, to guide your daily living.

I’m not really sure how I found my word, or how it found me, because I wasn’t even sure I was going to do this thing. I’d heard about it from past year, seen the blog posts and the links, but one word? To change your year? Really? How do you even pick a word?

Somehow it came to mind, and never left.

peace.

Peace is something I need, badly and constantly. My life is busy, everyone’s life is busy, and I get so caught up in my to-do lists and homework assignments that I forget to leave space, to breathe, to find peace in the in-between and the everyday and the painful.

So this year, I’m going to seek out peace.

Peace with the Lord, and peace from Him. Peace in the midst of chaos, of uncertainty, of uprooting and change. Peace with myself, all that I am and am not and wish to be.

It’s going to be a year of growth, of change, of challenge, and hopefully, of peace.

what’s your one word?