2018: The Year of ‘No’ | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

2018: The Year of ‘No’ | Mark’s Remarks

By on January 10, 2018 at 8:30 am

Jerry Seinfeld recently said that when a person reaches age 60 or so, he or she should be able to simply say “No.” No explanation, no unpleasantness. Just “No.”

I’m a decade away from 60, but I think I’m going to start saying it more.

Are you with me? My slogan for the new year is “2018: The Year of No.”

A few months ago I wrote about having too much to do.  We go in circles some evenings and I think we pass such behavior on to our kids. How crazy is it to go to three activities in one day? We did just that this past weekend, and it was nuts. The nutty thing is, we had two other things to do that day and decided to skip them.

Literally, if had we gone to everything we could have gone to that day, we would have been gone from our house from 8 a.m. until way past supper time.

What about our poor little dog, blocked away until we returned home? What about our poor little bank account, unable to handle yet another meal of fast food out for a family; not to mention our poor little stomachs.

In my own family and in my circle of friends, we have a problem saying “No.” I know people I’m associated with who like to make others feel guilty for saying “No.” Therefore, a vicious cycle has been created. People think they have to participate in everything because they are going to disappoint or be looked upon as lazy or lacking in some way.

Here’s my question, not only for you but for myself as well: Who cares?

Are you doing what is right for your family? Are you taking care of them? Do you have time to sit at the table and have good, solid meals with some conversation? Are you serving your church but not serving so much that you neglect everything else? Are you serving with joy?

Church can be a confusing place, sometimes. A small amount of people do the work, and therefore feel they have to help out in several areas. This is not healthy and I am convinced it is not what God wants from us.

He wants us to serve, and we should. But we shouldn’t serve so much that we are stressed and not joyful. I think many of us can relate.

I talked with a very wise man the other day, and we talked about that particular topic. He advised me to pray, and he also advised me to think of my family, of my time alone with God, and of my own spiritual walk.

After praying for a few days, I saw where God wanted me to serve. I realized that, most of the time, I jump into something and say “Yes” without thinking it over or praying. It’s amazing it took me so long to ask for God’s guidance. I’m still serving, but I’m not serving in several different places, unable to do a quality job. I also needed to remember I have a job that can also be a ministry.

Plus, the people you meet every day can and should be part of your earthly ministry.  Never stop serving, never stop praying. But don’t wear yourself completely out.

I think we have to do the same things with other activities in our lives. Why do our kids have to be in so many different activities? They don’t.  What if our kids miss an opportunity? They won’t. What if our kids look back and think we neglected them by not letting them participate in everything they wanted to participate in? Kids seldom do that. They remember the time you spent with them, not the 4 billion activities they were in.

I mentioned the activities WE decided to ditch the other night. We ended up having a quiet supper, ice cream and a mean game of Scrabble. We had a blast. Everyone was calm and content as we got ready for bed.  It was a rare night that we plan to make more of a common occurrence in our house.

And we won’t feel guilty about it.

Speaking of guilt. I struggled a lot with participating in my own hobbies. That struggle is now over. I plan on participating, as long as I know it’s temporary and it doesn’t take me away from family and home too much. I think it’s important for your children to see you doing something you enjoy from time to time — and not feeling guilty because you’re not wearing yourself out trying to do it all.

I admire people who have already embraced the idea of “No” and decided to make it a way of life. My only regret is that it took me this long to get on board.

Happy 2018 to you! I wish you lots of opportunities to say “No” this year.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.