OK, you just stay right here and I’ll be back.
It was the summer after 7th grade and I had stayed overnight at an extended family member’s house for a weekend. I was having a blast and happily earning extra money for chores.
Happily until that moment that is…
The extended family member had dropped me off at a stranger’s house, one of his clients, and said he would be back in “awhile.” In the meantime, I was to garden the house, pulling weeds around various flowerbeds.
Since he owned a landscaping company, this was presumably normal labor…
But even I knew as a twelve-year-old girl that something wasn’t right about leaving me unattended in one of his customer’s yards.
A pit formed in my stomach.
What if I had to use the restroom or felt sick….what if someone had driven up and tried to kidnap me….what if the owner had a problem….? No cell, mind you…
The owners of the home weren’t even there if I wanted to contact my “boss” not that I had his number memorized…
I remember that each time he drove off, I fixed my eyes on the tasks at hand until he returned.
But sadly, I never spoke up, not to him nor did I mention it to my parents in those tender, awkward ages.
I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, especially since the person was very strong willed.
I wish I had…
In older childhood, our tight relationships with our parents break wide open and secrets begin to form, we make good and often bad decisions on our own, and sometimes, sadly, adults take advantage of us.
Of course now I realize that pit was in my stomach so that I could speak up. It was the “fight or flight” emergency system God had given me to say to SAY something when I was uncomfortable.
And if I could go back now, I would ABSOLUTELY say to that man…
“I won’t stay here without you. I’m not old enough to be on my own in as stranger’s yard while you drive off for a random hour or two. I don’t have a cell phone (they’ve barely been invented at this point but you get the picture).”
In other words, “This is NOT safe.”
Because let’s face it, bad things can happen even in the suburbs.
I was very fortunate that in this case, nothing bad ever did happen at those home.
But how many other times as a youngster did you or I not speak up?
When we did have scary consequences or make bad choices because we were afraid to say no?
And more than looking back, how does this kind of thing still affect us to this very day?
Friend, I want you to know something if you yet find yourself in a situation like this…
It’s never too late to find your voice.
One of the things I have learned to do over the years is to listen harder to that still, small voice inside of me when something is amiss. And I have missed many awful experience because I have learned to exercise it as needed.
I hope you will do the same.
God has given all of humanity a conscience, the ability to know what is right and what is wrong. And my friend, you deserve to be heard as you speak out the difference.
If you haven’t found your voice, here are three tips to remind you of how to do so, to get you thinking BIG.
- Boundaries. When someone asks you to do something that is uncomfortable or will take you over the edge of your giftings, tell them. For example, “This is out of my area of expertise. May I have some assistance as I take this project on?” (assuming it’s something you can’t Google or YouTube to watch)… “No, I don’t feel safe doing that,” or “No, I don’t think I have the time for that this week because my kids won’t see me enough if I overcommit,” etc.
- Integrity. Don’t be wishy-washy or avoid someone’s request by not returning their call or text. Stand by your word and give it one way or the other. You deserve to make your own decisions in life with God’s help and others may judge you how they will either way. Take time to pray over what you should say, even if just for a moment, and then say it when you’re ready. Pay attention to your body language to make sure others really get your message. Don’t say “No,” but laugh the whole time or others may be confused.
- Generosity. Don’t judge the person on the other side of you too harshly. They may feel very comfortable with what they have asked of you, they may have no idea that it’s out of your range, and they may have a very different past than yours. So let’s just let God oversee them as we use our time best for to honor the gifts God has given us.
And as you’re personally thinking BIG, be prayerful about your family too. I always want my kids to feel safe telling me things, especially my middle schooler, since I know how hard it is to do anything that sets you out of line in those years.
Make sure you equip them with the knowledge of boundary setting so others don’t take advantage of that and make yourself a safety zone so they know you won’t freak out when they do finally open up.
We’re happy to help you with that if you’re finding the relationship with them or anyone in your life is not running smoothly!
Have a great week as you join us in thinking BIG!
Love Living Intentionally With You,
Christa and the RCC Staff