Is It Okay to Opt Out?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, when adding to your life to improve it, all Hell will break loose in an effort to thwart your noble intentions. 

After I joined hope*writers, which was, in fact, not a lightly-made decision, we embarked upon a weeklong road trip.

Oh, the road trip. I have stories to share. But, all in good time, dear reader. All in good time. 

What ensued upon arriving home from our week-long absence was inherently good. Like I mentioned last week, a lot has happened this spring, and though the timing of it all feels like a pop-up thunderstorm, I see God moving. I feel confident that any rain produced by this maddening storm will nurture our growth as a family and as individuals. Still, a pop-up thunderstorm is sometimes unexpected, wild, and super-charged enough to throw you off balance. 

One element to our storm is Izaak keeping so quiet when some kids his age seem to overflow like streams of unending babble. What the pediatrician had to say was no surprise. “Go for a speech evaluation,” she said. 

The speech therapist, amid learning blocks and play cups, sat on the mat with her legs crossed, shoeless, bohemian, insightful. She poured fake juice over Izaak’s play ice cubes and intermittently asked us questions. Then, after their fake lunch ended, and after she worked through her questions, she set down the binder and gave us the verdict.

“Really, he’s at a crossroads,” she said. “It could be something, or he could be a late talker.”

While we all lean towards, “late talker,” she still wants to see us weekly for the next month. After we all agreed on a particular day and time, I realized the conflict. The best time slot for the working professionals – Zach and the speech therapist – comes just close enough to my guided hope*circle time so as to eclipse it.

What is a guided hope*circle, you ask? It’s an accountability group offered by hope*writers. Being a new member during the first-ever round of guided hope*circles (normally, they are peer instigated), and being pretty poor at time management, I thought the guided hope*circle focused on writing routines might be my best next step on my writing journey. 

Now, perhaps I should muse here about boundaries and self-respect. Maybe I should have added my guided hope*circle to the calendar. Maybe I should take my writing journey more seriously. Well, I did neither because I’m terrible at time management, remember? And while I have come far in my writing journey, I still find it easy to sweep aside my “work” in order to respect the valuable time of others. 

Maybe I should just ask to reschedule, and I most likely will. But, that’s not my point here.

Really, in the heat of the moment, I thought I could swing both. 

The guided hope*circle starts at 9am; the appointment, at 11am. The guided hope*circle meets through Zoom. While brushing Abigail’s teeth and washing the maple syrup out of Izaak’s hair, I could easily turn-off the Zoom camera and microphone. I’d miss the networking during breakout sessions, but who likes hobnobbing with other writers anyway? And, to top off the convenience of it all, I could easily stream the meeting through the van speakers while racing down the mountain to the clinic, chanting, “I can do all things in Christ!” 

I am strong and capable. 

God is strong and capable.

But the truth – that I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me – does not expect me to cry out, “so, pile on another burden! He’ll never give me more than I can handle.”

Oh, but it is true! So, why underestimate myself? Don’t I trust my own resiliency? Don’t I trust God?

Don’t I have faith?

Often, I mistake my pride for faith. 

This past year, we learned we are stronger than we thought. We are capable of more than we imagined. The challenges we faced were unending and unavoidable

But, how many of those challenges came with the option to opt out?

On the eve of my scheduling snafu, a question floated to the surface: Is this a challenge to be accepted or declined?

Sometimes we have no other choice but to push through a difficult season, one step at a time.

Sometimes, to opt out is to miss an opportunity meant for us. In those times, we lean on His strength and trust in His wisdom. In those times, we do what we must.

Yet, almost always, there is something we’re clinging to that must be let go, and, always, we have the option to choose what is better.

May we be discerning enough to know the difference, and blessed by the old adage that less is more.

One Comment

  1. Saundra Hall Cunningham

    Thank you for sharing and reminding us that God gives all power to us even when we think we are strong or weak. Izaak with burst forth with conversation in HIS time. Love you all and praying.

    Liked by 1 person

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