When Saying "No" Is Hard.

I was "guilted" into going for midweek service yesterday. I use "guilted" because I'd been scolded by the elderly lady, who incidentally "brought me" to the church, for not making Sunday service last week and opting for the online service. I had wanted to tell her outrightly that, "Sorry mama but I'm not exactly having an easy time trekking all this way to church every week in my condition and I have my life to live!" but when she started scolding and mentioned that I would not realise just
yet what positive impact coming to church religiously was going to have on my son, I bit my tongue and hung my head like an errant child because, I do want my children to be sha grounded in the Lord so I knew she was right. She then encouraged that I try not to miss the midweek (Wednesday) service. Normally, I attend every Sunday service and Saturday alternate meetings, the mid week services were really the ones I never attended and I'm still wondering how I've gotten to a place where I am called on Thursday with a, "Ah, sis Judith, this one we didn't see you in church yesterday!" when I did what was normal for me to do: not attend a Wednesday service.

I've become quite heavy with my child and my energy these days has depleted not a little and yet, I am my husband's legs and errand person here (because we are working on a lot at the moment) and literally have to leave the house everyday to run errands. Of course, I've also got my Dr's appointments, serious commitments with the training I mentioned I was taking and my time with my son. My days are spent running errands, fretting about not meeting deadlines and submitting my completed tasks to assigned projects, trying to balance communication with the hubster as it is key especially when you're working on crucial stuff, paying attention to my son and his needs and, the really last things on my to-do-list tends to be communicating with extended family, updating my blog and having any "me" time. The "me" time I get is mostly when my son is asleep at night- say about this time, 12-3am- where I can then update my blog and after that, I literally pass out. 

Of course you know I also walk everywhere as I haven't started driving. I stopped the driving lessons after taking 12 hour lessons when I took up the course I mentioned I was doing- I'm not really very good at combining two things that require rapt attention so one always has to give for the other. I'm in my third trimester now so I haven't got the stamina to walk too much and so I take the taxi often- which costs a lot if you calculate how many errands require for me to transport myself farther than I could easily walk. I narrate all this to give you a picture of what I have to contend with and yet, no sooner have I completed some tasks for my project and uploaded minutes of meetings for the numerous meetings we have had within the week, throw up my hands and say, "Ah! NOW I can rest", do I receive a text followed by a call to "remind me of  our evangelical outreach taking place- please endeavor to be there as Jesus is waiting for you". 

I've talked about how loving, caring and family oriented my church members are but there is also this very subtle pressure (that seems to increase with time) put on you to attend all attendables, regardless of how much discomfort you are faced with. I had to text my pastor today when, exhausted from having just uploaded a copy of minutes for a meeting we had LAST WEEK (I'm so behind on my schedule), and DS running and scattering the whole house whilst I struggled to do all this as well as be on top of my role as mum and carer,  I receive a text from him reminding me of a Saturday meeting and the Wednesday service yesterday. I responded telling him that though I would attend the service, I could no longer commit to Wednesday services as the stress was beginning to get to me. The reply I received was a "It is well, we will speak after service". As expected, after service, I was accosted and encouraged to "hold on to the race to heaven as we have no choice than to make it". I was told that provision would be made to transport me to and fro the Wednesday service etc. 

I had to leave immediately as I had a GoToMeeting scheduled online with my Project team for 9 o'clock pm and service finished at 8pm. I got back at 8:25, prepped my dinner and DS's, bathed DS and quickly logged on to the online meeting whilst feeding Ds and having my dinner. After it all I was exhausted and exasperated and I thought, I shouldn't feel so angry serving God, this is not what God wants me to do! It's also not really about the trekking now but also the fact that I've got to manage my time as I've got a lot on my plate now and yet, if you just keep quiet and not come to church activities, you are pelted with calls and inquiries; on the other hand, if you explained your predicament beforehand, you are encouraged to damn all "distractions" and make it to the house of God: I really honestly did not bargain for this and I feel bad only because these people have become like family so I'm beginning to feel manipulated.

DH himself is livid. "Give me their number, I have to call and tell them to stop pressurizing you since you cannot speak up for yourself! I already know how you handle stress and I don't want this!", he says but I calm him down and tell him to let me gently take care of it. One of the things I love about DH is how firm yet grounded he is. For instance, knowing how helpful the church members have been to us all this while we've operated two homes in two continents, he'll come into town, visit the pastor and wife to extend his gratitude yet, come Sunday, he'll take us all to Winner's Chapel, our regular church in far away Dartford, despite knowing that the Deeper Lifers would be expecting him to come to their church. Once the pastor's wife had called on a Sunday evening, knowing that DH was around, to ask how come she didn't see us- she left a voice mail. I didn't call back but texted that we had gone to "our" church. I later explained that I'm only attending DL 'cos hubby and I agreed that I could in his absence but that he would not want it to become an issue between us when we were together. That put a stop to the calls when I didn't come to church when DH was around.

I'm not even sure why I've written this ridiculously long post (yes, I know, I'm sorry!) that almost reads ungrateful. Truth is, it's sometimes hard to say "NO", especially to people who have constantly gone out of their way for you- I mean, when I was taking the theoretical part of my course, the pastor and wife always had my son so I almost feel "indebted" to them when, really, it's about God no? And I spend most of my time listening to Christian messages at home anyway, I don't see why I have to go through that stress of taking three hours to make a service with brethren when I can have the same kind of quiet time and fellowship for one hour and invest the time left into putting my life in order- it's not like I won't be attending the Sunday service- I will. 

Do you think Its normal that I feel guilty for feeling this way? Do you think I should try, at least for the fact that the brethren are willing to help in alleviating the stress, to attend church activities? Should I just cut down on the numerous activities for my sanity and health? Do you find it easy to say NO? How do you say NO to people who have been good and constantly said YES to you?

I'm really sorry for this long post- I'll try not to repeat this; it's just so cathartic to pour out your thoughts on a blank page.
It's Thursday already, the week (and month for that matter) is almost over! 
Have a good weekend ahead!

Love Always,


  1. You know spirituality is a personal journey, and how I may follow mine, might not be necessarily how you follow yours. Forgive me if I sound a little discriminatory here, but I have never appreciated how we Nigerians go about our religion and always think that going to church or church activities is the most important aspect of our walk with God. I believe it transcends all this but then, it's just my opinion. This is also why I don't like going to an all Nigerian church.
    As for saying no, I can be a very disciplined person and firm too, so I am always quite blunt and forthcoming. As someone who just gave birth 6 months ago, I still remember vividly how 3rd trimesters can be, and if your community cannot understand that your energy level is no longer the same, especially as you have a toddler, plus living all alone so as to cut you some slack, then I don't get it. Moreover they helping out when you're or were in need, shouldn't be viewed as debt to be paid back, neither should you see it that way either. It's the christ like life they are trying to live by doing so. Moreover your family always shows appreciation for it, so I don't see any big deal with it.
    You need all the strength you can get for delivery and postpartum period, because you will have a new baby plus a toddler. So do please take care of yourself first. Good luck!----UGO

  2. Yes,Saying no can be difficult atimes but it should be said when need be. You seem to have your hands full at the moment and taking up more could be detrimental to your health and well being. Third trimester? And they are still bugging you? Nawa o....Christianity is an individual race finally o. You even have gospel audio messages which help a lot so I don't see why you should keep stressing yourself. You need to de-stress your life now. It's a priority and 'they'should respect it. If they really care about you,they should cover you in their prayers and let you attend when you can. It's your life. More power to you nne-jisiike.

  3. I think it is important to learn how to say no when we need to take care of ourselves... we need to be there for others whenever possible but we are no good to others if we don't put our foot down when we have too much on our plate and frankly you have a great deal on your plate right now... you need to take care of yourself and your family.. xox

  4. NNE its never that serious, this is why I like coming and going and not necessarily involve myself in church activities, bad I know but once you make yourself known to leaders, you won't rest. Please take care of yourself, reading all you wrote about your daily routine, I don't know how you do it. You must be really strong cos I won't/can't mbok.

  5. U don't have to displease urslf to please others dear...