In 2019, I read a book called Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner. The book chronicles her busy life, which consisted of an HGTV webshow and a blog with a huge following.
At one point in the book, Loechner recalls being handed a business card by a producer at an event. She knew the opportunity could lead to something more but on the cab ride after the event, she turned the business card over and over in her well-manicured fingers as they passed a cemetery with white tombstones that were lined up like tight rows of dominoes.
“I know, simply, in that instant, that I do not want this for myself. I do not want to be stacked — even in death — up against another with so very little room to breathe. I do not want to compete. I want white space. I want room for grace.”
Then I saw this quote (which I believe comes from Rhea Ellen) from a friend on Facebook: “Destroy the idea that you have to be constantly working or grinding in order to be successful. Embrace the concept that rest, recovery, and reflection are essential parts of the progress towards a successful and ultimately happy life.”
White space. Room for grace. Rest. Recovery. Reflection. None of this happens without intentionality — without the willingness to say no.
I’ve stopped apologizing for saying no. I just politely decline. That’s not to say people always understand or don’t press further. But I suspect they’ll just view whatever I say as an excuse anyway, so I’m not in a hurry to offer more.
The thing is, living out someone else’s plan is a bad idea. It may not line up with God's plan. It’s not fulfilling. It doesn’t take your physical and emotional wellness into consideration. And it leaves you with little margin for recovery and reflection.
To borrow from Loechner’s book title, have the courage to journey off the beaten path.