Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pie Crust Promises

I did a good thing today. I said I was going to help our community group with a service project (picking up trash along the roadside), and I did it.

Now, that may seem kind of obvious, because, don't most of us do what we say we will? Um, I must confess that I frequently do not.

I did "back in the day". Back when I was a new believer and full of fire, I spent a lot of time volunteering for stuff and following through. I sang on the worship team, led the children in worship at least every other Sunday with my guitar, led a Bible study...all while going to school full time, working full time, and raising two children on my own.

How did I do this, you ask? I have no idea. It makes me tired just writing it. But, I seemed to have the energy, and really loved the work. I think I felt I was making a difference.

Along the way, my familial responsibilities got much bigger. I bought a huge house in Colorado Springs out in the country and started doing therapeutic foster care. At one point, I had fifteen children and two staff members.

Kelsey was in competitive gymnastics, which required membership in the parent booster club - basically time each month working the Bingo Parlor for $$, in addition to three times a week practices, meets all over the state, parent and team meetings, etc. Kris played football and basketball - some in Jr. High, but all the time in Sr. High. And in Colorado, the public transportation system was non-existent.

I am not sorry about these things - I totally loved going to meets and games and screaming my heart out. By the way, they tend to frown on yelling at gymnastics meets. It's kind of a "refined" sport, like tennis or golf. My bad.

During all this increased activity on the home front, I still felt pressure - probably just from me - to do my work for the church. Like attending the big events the church put on, practicing and singing in the worship team, having my kids as involved as they could be in the children's things...I think I got fried.

My expectations of myself didn't change with my increased family responsibilities. I think I decided that my value as a Christian and as a person were wrapped up in what I could do. And so I did, and I did, and I did. Way too many things. That's when my grip started slipping. I made promises, committed to be on committees, said I be at an event...and not show. Oh, usually I'd call, usually. After all, I have a house full of excuses.

But, James said, "Let your 'yes' be yes, and your 'no' be no" (James 5:12). I've wandered a long way from that.

Mary Poppins called them, "Pie crust promises. Easily made, easily broken".

I'm really just becoming aware of how bad this has gotten. How easily the excuses come, and how hard it is for me to simply figure out if I can or can't say yes. Actually, sometimes I know I shouldn't say yes, and still don't. I think they call that co-dependent. I call it being a chicken.

At any rate, if you are one of the people that I've let down - I sincerely apologize. My intentions are usually good. I just don't know my own weakness. My responsibilities are huge, and I'm trying to get myself back in order ('cause I'm kind of a basket case right now). According to Therapist Lisa, I am NOT to commit to more projects. So, please, if you can, forgive me.

And if I have to say, "no" to you. . . please be kind.


  1. Kathleen, That's one of the most honest things I've ever read. Allow yourself to say no - nothing wrong there - and let go of the outcome - do what's best for you - it will be best for all those that care about you :) That's the only advice I know to give you, from one fellow 'say yes to everythinger, to another'

  2. Jenn G.5:03 AM

    Oh boy,I used to be you. A toddler, infant twins, and I'd say yes to anything my church asked me to do--women's bible study, Christmas outreach thing, Vacation Bible School(I once built a coral reef out of chicken wire, paper mache, and that expanding foam insulation stuff), meals for new moms or sick folks, you name it. And then we left that church because they really only wanted to reach out to the rich and white,and joined a tiny tiny church that wanted to be Jesus to the world. And I kept on saying yes, yes, yes and feeling more and more pressured and wondering where God was in all of our hip, cool deconstructed services and my busyness. And then that church trashed my best friend and called her a liar and a fraud for speaking truth and light. So we left--and I stopped saying yes. It's been three years and I'm just starting to find my faith again, just starting to feel the pull to worship in community again, just starting to talk to God again. My best friend still can't think about darkening the door of a church, but she's found her faith again through the blogosphere. I won't say yes again so easily. I also home school, and I've learned to say no to some of the many opportunities we have in the DC metro area. I'm learning balance now that I'm 40. I'm learning that no one dies if they don't get to go somewhere cool every other day. Slowly, so slowly, I've learned to say no--not always, but usually enough. Thanks for being honest enough to write this post.

  3. Thank you both for commenting - it really is great to hear how these posts affect others. It's funny how many of us feel these ways, but we often believe that we are the only ones. I guess that's another reason I'm glad I'm writing this stuff.

    It helps me (and all of us) realize that maybe we aren't the only ones struggling out here. =-)

  4. Hi Kathy, nice Blog.
    Dont say yes when u want to say No.