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12/24/2014 09:59 am ET Updated Dec 24, 2014

The 2 Most Powerful Words We Have -- And Why We Misuse Them

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Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of decisions, commitments and activities you MUST do each day? The author of The Best Yes explains how to simplify your choices and reset your priorities.

By Lysa TerKeurst

Drive-thru ordering and my youngest daughter are a bad combination. Brooke can do many things in life. But she panics at the drive-thru box.

Even if we've talked about getting her order in mind beforehand, something always goes haywire. She takes way too long to order. She changes things even after placing her order. She confuses the poor order taker who isn't making enough money per hour to deal with people like us.

And here's the thing that really baffles me -- the drive-thru restaurant we go to most often? Her dad runs it. As in, she's been going to this place her whole life. And the choices of menu items? She likes just about everything at this restaurant. So no matter what she chooses, she'll enjoy her meal.

But still she's paralyzed when it's time to order. Why?

Because she doesn't want to pull away from that drive-thru, get a few miles down the road and a few bites into her meal and wish she'd made a different choice. It's not that she'll think what she ordered is bad, it’s just that she'll feel the tension of realizing she missed the best choice. And none of us like feeling we missed out. Or messed up. Or misstepped right out of what could have been.

I struggle with decisions, too. I don't want to miss out on opportunities, disappoint people or misstep right out of God's will. I struggle with keeping balance in my life. I struggle with worrying about what others think of my decisions. I struggle with feeling like I can't quite figure out how other women seem to do it all.

Descriptions ping in my head: I'm tired. I'm distracted. I'm disappointed in myself. I feel slightly used and more than slightly used up. I'm a little overwhelmed and a lot worn down.

There's this nagging sense that something's a bit off inside me. Someone makes a request of me that I know is unrealistic. My brain says no. My schedule says no. My reality says no. But my heart says yes! Then my mouth betrays my intention of saying no, as it smiles and says, "Yes, of course."

I dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no. I dread saying yes not because I don't love that person. I love them very much. But I dread what saying yes will do to the already-running-on-empty me.

I misuse the two most powerful words, yes and no. I blindly live at the mercy of the requests of others that come my way. Every assignment feels like my assignment. You need me? You got me. Because I'm too scared or too busy or too something to just be honest and say, "I can't this time."

In this great day, when most women wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents. We'll tell you all about our broken places of yesterday but don't dare admit the limitations of our today. All the while the acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls. And from those holes leaks the cry of the unfulfilled calling that never quite happened.

We say yes to so much that we miss what I call our "Best Yes" assignments simply because we didn't heed the warning of the whispers in that subtle space: I'm tired. I'm distracted. I'm disappointed in myself. I feel slightly used and more than slightly used up.

We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please. And it's not just because of the vicious cycles of people pleasing. I miss Best Yes opportunities sometimes because I simply don't know they're part of the equation. I get all twisted up in making the decision to check either the Yes or the No box, not realizing there is a third box that reads Best Yes.

A Best Yes is you playing your part.
At school.
At work.
At wherever you are today.

A Best Yes is embracing the assignments that God has uniquely chosen for you, instead of saying yes to each and every request that comes your way.

It's deciding now what you want your life to look like, then making your everyday choices line up with that long-term goal.

And what's so great about that? In life, you have a part to play. If you know it and believe it, you live it. You'll make decisions with the Best Yes as your best filter. Your undistracted love will make your faith ring true. Your wisdom will help you make decisions today that will still be good tomorrow.

And you'll be alive and present for all of it.

Lysa TerKeurst is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of The Best Yes—Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands and Unglued.

This excerpt was adapted from The Best Yes—Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.

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