At age 16, I was a gangly teen with braces, frizzy permed hair, and low self-esteem. But in our church and the local home-schooling community I had a reputation as a dependable babysitter. I loved children and it was a good source of spending cash.
The problem came when more than one family asked me to babysit on one particular night. Before my brain could even process the information, my mouth would automatically respond.
“Sure, I can watch your kids on Friday, Mrs. Smith!” I responded cheerfully with a big smile. “No problem!” But when someone else called twenty minutes later with an urgent need of childcare for the same night, poor Mrs. Smith was forgotten. “Of course, I’ll be happy to babysit for you on Friday, Mrs. Jones!”
Not until both families showed up on my doorstep Friday night did I realize what I had done. My desire for approval and my fear of disappointing others led me to agree to more than I could handle, and left me in a sticky situation.
I wish I could say I learned my lesson when I was 16. But even now in my adult years the need for approval often leads me to say “yes” when I mean “no.” I over-commit and double-book my calendar, driven by the fear of letting someone down who “needs me” desperately. Or I agree to do something I don’t really want to do or don’t have time to do, out of self-imposed guilt or pressure.
A “yes” given grudgingly isn’t a FREE yes. II Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each
one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or
under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Am I giving my time, my energy, and my commitments grudgingly or
under compulsion? If so, I’m seeking approval from men rather than
My problem at 16, and my problem now, is that I often look to the wrong sources for my approval. When I look to my Heavenly Father, I see that through Christ I am already “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). The more I know who I am as a beloved daughter of God, the more I am free to say “yes” when I mean “yes,” and free to say “no” when I mean “no.” I can give of myself with joy and sincerity and confidence, knowing I will never disappoint my Heavenly Father. THAT is real freedom!
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free!” (Galatians 5:1a, NASB)