Sometimes I Confuse the BEST with the REST

You know my story. Because it’s your story, too, only your details are different. Here’s my version:

I was a new teacher and a new mom. I was the yearbook adviser (fun!) and the school newspaper adviser (fun!) and the National Honor Society adviser (more fun!).

I was working on my master’s degree (a good thing!), serving on the state executive board for English teachers (a good thing!), and editing a state-wide publication for student writing (more good things!).

I taught a young married Sunday school class (loved it!), enrolled Kelli in gymnastics (loved it!), and had another baby (still love her!).

And then came soccer and basketball and volleyball and piano lessons.

It was so much FUN… so many GOOD things…and I LOVED it all.

But then something happened. I woke up one day too exhausted to love any of it anymore (except my babies, of course). I was sprinting a marathon, and I didn’t know how to stop.

Until I did.

It happened while I was preparing a lesson for my young married class. I don’t remember the specific topic—or anything about the lesson at all actually. But I do remember when my eyes locked on one simple truth—right there in black and white.

(I think a holy light beamed down and illuminated the page…and I may have heard a choir of angels.)

The simple truth was this: I was trying too hard to prove something to someone.

But what was I trying to prove? I didn’t know. And to whom? I didn’t know that either.

Was I trying to prove that I was smart? That I was needed? That I was a good teacher? A good mom? (Notice I didn’t say good wife…because when a mom runs at this pace, guess who gets left behind?)

Who was I proving this to? My boss? My colleagues? Other moms? My friends?


And that was my answer. I was drowning myself because I was trying to prove to myself that I was good enough.

(Gee…remember that “baggage” post from a few weeks back?) CLICK HERE

I started taking inventory. I evaluated everything that consumed my time and energy, and then I decided what deserved my time and energy. Everything else…it had to go. (I kept my children, by the way.)

Some activities I ended immediately. Others were commitments I needed to fulfill before I could quit. And when I was tempted by new opportunities to do more fun and good things, I learned to say no.

And an amazing thing happened. People still liked me…even when I said no!

(More holy light and angel choirs!)

And the fun things, the good things, the things I loved and chose to do…gave me joy again.

Now when a friend or another mom or one of my girls tells me she’s racing too fast, I ask two questions.

What are you trying to prove?

Who are you trying to prove it to?

Sometimes people look at me funny when I ask. Or they nod their head slowly at the revelation. And sometimes, like I did, they think they have no choice. But we do have a choice, and here’s how to make it.

Say no to the good so you can say YES to the BEST.

There are a lot of good things out there. But if we fill our lives with all the good things, we won’t have room for the BEST things. I don’t know about you, but I want the best!

Say no to the good so you can say YES to the BEST!

That’s my mantra–and my brake pedal when I feel my pace picking up.

And there’s another thing. When we run at a breakneck pace, guess who we’re dragging with us? Our kids. What are we teaching them?

Has the needle on your speedometer passed a comfortable speed limit? Is  it time to hit the brakes?

Are you trying to prove something to somebody?

Your answer to that question may not be the same as mine, but when you find your answer—

Life will be so much FUN…with so many BEST things…and you’ll LOVE it.

(Thank you Bryan Mills of Meadow Heights Church for teaching me the difference between good and best!)

Have you given up something GOOD so you could have the BEST?

Is there something GOOD in your life right now that needs to go?

What is a BEST in your life that is nonnegotiable? 

Share your story in the comments below!


This month’s give-away is the Corinthian bangle from TRADES OF HOPE!

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  1. Kristen says:

    Holy relatable! Thanks for this one. I just recently hit a very similar point and decided it was time to put on the brakes. Resigning from coaching was painful but immediately liberating. When I explained to my girls, Millie responded that she thought I had made the right and best choice for us. 😉 How is my eight year wiser than me?

    • Karen says:

      You said it exactly right…giving up something “good” can be painful–but immediately liberating. Perfect choice of words, Kristen! YAY you for making the tough decision! And YAY Millie for being such a rock for her momma! I love it!

  2. LM says:

    Wow….powerful and true. I always say I have to quit doing so much, maybe next year, it will be better IF….well, I do know how to say no and don’t have a problem doing that but….I have to start downsizing more so I can prioritize the BEST! You are so right – say no to the good so you can say yes to the best. Faith, family, and your passion. Don’t spread yourself too thin or you won’t be any good for anyone.

    • Karen says:

      Is it a coincidence that two “mom-coaches” were the first to comment on this post? 🙂 It makes me think of all the young ladies who are forever changed because of the investments you made in them!

  3. Jason says:

    I totally relate. I remember when you asked me those questions last year. I was on the verge of a “water works” breakdown in your office. And I thank you for making me realize I don’t have to prove myself to anyone! You’re awesome! Keep up these posts. They aren’t just “Mom Confessions.” They are life lessons for EVERYONE! (Look at you teaching without even trying . . .)

  4. Sandy says:

    This is so true. Sometimes it so hard to say no. It makes you feel like you’ve failed sometimes. I have to learn they aren’t failures but they are to keep you from going insane. 🙂 Those “NO’S”protect you and your family. They also teach us and motivate us. Teach us that life doesn’t have to go at break neck speed. Motivate us to do and be the very best in the things we do choose to do.

    Karen, thank you for these blogs you are doing, they help us and remind us that we don’t have to be perfect.

    If you aren’t sure if you should say “NO”to something seek God and he will direct you.

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