Friday, February 20, 2015

now is the time for no

I'm coming up on the one-year anniversary of some of the hardest news I've ever received: my dissertation was inadequate. After 3 years of pouring my heart and soul into graduate school, giving it everything I had, this was really disappointing. For a year now I've been processing that news and trying to find my footing so that I can attack the project again and win this time. It's hard to do that when you're exhausted. And even harder when the little voice inside says you don't have what it takes.

Add to the mix a two-week trip to Israel, a cross-country move with a family of five, settling in to a new community, and beginning to teach adjunct for the first time . . . and it will make sense why my blog has lain fallow lately. All five of us have had challenges adjusting to life in Oregon (and frankly, recovering from Wheaton). And while the external pressures on our schedule are less than what we faced in Wheaton, we find ourselves more stretched and more exhausted than we've ever been. Day after day the hours erode while the to-do swells and grows more impossible.

That's why I found this post over at The Well so encouraging this morning. Like me, Kindra has discovered that she's not superwoman. She can't do it all. And like me, she's learning to be okay with that. (Ironically, two of my own posts at The Well came up as "related articles." I guess that makes sense.)

In this twilight zone where we live -- not yet finished with what we started in Wheaton but trying to put down roots in a new community -- I have spread myself too thin. I have said "yes" to lots of good, small things, things I believe are worth doing, which have crowded my calendar until I have nothing left to give to the one thing I need to do -- finish the dissertation.

My good friend Anna Moseley Gissing is giving up "yes" for Lent. She writes,

"Saying 'no' requires trust. Saying no to more commitments, more responsibilities, and more busyness means trusting that other opportunities will come at other times. There is a time for everything, and now is the time for no. Now is the time to remember that God made me with limits, and these limits remind me that I’m the creature, not the Creator. God knows my desires, my passions, and my anxiety.
Saying no creates space for God here and now. When I clear out some space in my mind and my life, I am more present to God and to those around me. And the commitments I have already made get the better part of me.
For the record, I'm glad I said yes to teaching at Multnomah University this semester. It's taken every ounce of my energy, but I have loved every minute. Still, I don't have what it takes to finish the dissertation when I'm spread this thin. My dissertation needs the better part of me. And that makes this the time for "no."


  1. Carmen:

    I've been reading your blog for years and appreciate your educational journey. I'm praying for your dissertation success. Never forget the wisdom of Paul that, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Phil 4:13.

  2. Thanks for your comment, David, and especially for your prayers! I appreciate it.

  3. Love this, Carmen! Thank you for your writing at The Well and for connecting with other pieces there. Blessings as you say "no!"

  4. Hi Marcia!
    It's funny . . . when I linked this post at The Well just now, I had forgotten that it was The Well that prompted me to write it in the first place! Thanks for producing a resource that consistently puts the "soul" back in my work and reminds me what it's all about.