Faith, Featured

Beware of the Burden of False Responsibility

March 21, 2017

The Opportunity and Struggle with Saying No

False responsibility is a spiritual bondage that robs us of time, energy, peace and joy. I know I cannot be all things to all people, yet so many times I have fallen prey to this trap of the enemy. False responsibility causes us to put too many things on our plate and to carry burdens that are not ours to carry. We are called to be good stewards of our time, energy, and finances. To do this, we have to pick and choose carefully what we are responsible for or we and those we care about will pay the price.

Do you find yourself struggling with saying no because you don’t want to let others down? Do you do things out of obligation and feel trapped in a cycle that you don’t know how to get out of?  Do you find yourself carrying emotional burdens of those around you?

In the times that we live in people all around us are burned out and exhausted due to the trap of false responsibility.  We don’t have to feel guilty for saying no.  In fact, we need to say no a lot and be very strategic about what we say yes to.

I recently had to come face to face with my struggle with false responsibility again. I was presented with a request to serve my community. As soon as it was presented to me I knew that I wanted to say no.  It would have involved putting more on my plate and I felt overwhelmed at the mere thought of adding anything else to my schedule.  Yet I was struggling with a couple of things about saying no.

  • I didn’t want to let others down.  On paper I was the perfect person for the task and I really didn’t know who would fulfill the request outside of me.
  • I was feeling selfish for saying no.

After praying about the opportunity and talking to my husband, I did say no.  While I knew I had done the right thing, I still felt guilty.

I just still hated feeling like I was letting others down.

The Dream of the Green Satin Blouse

Within two days of making this decision I had a dream which God gave me to confirm I had made the right choice.  In my dream I was in a dressing room of a boutique in a very fine hotel.  A salesperson was helping me change into a blouse she was trying to sell me.  It was a green satin blouse and I could see her trying to work the blouse over my shoulders.  It was actually taking two salespeople to force it on.  At the same time the salesperson was doing this, she was telling me the blouse was perfect for me.  It was a beautiful blouse, emerald green in color.  It was a great color for me and was a flattering style.

All of this was true, but it wasn’t comfortable.

As I stepped back to admire myself in the blouse I realized that I was very pregnant…probably giving birth very soon.  I was smiling and excited because I was buying the blouse to go to a romantic dinner with my husband.  I wore the blouse out of the store and rode the elevator up and stepped out into a beautiful hotel lobby to meet my husband.

As we walked together to the car I was surprised to see that I was wearing the dressy blouse with jean shorts and seemed oblivious to the contradiction between the comfy jean shorts and the dressy but tight in the shoulders blouse.

Clearly this was a mismatched outfit.

The thing that also stood out in the dream is that my husband didn’t seem to pay any attention to what I was wearing. He seemed very happy to see me and focused solely on me.  We walked straight to each other, smiling and happy to be reunited, and went on our way to the romantic dinner.

It appeared that what had felt like a big deal to me really hadn’t mattered to him.

I awoke knowing that God was speaking to me through the dream but didn’t immediately make a connection between it and my present circumstances.  Yet over the course of the day I couldn’t shake the question,

“Why would I buy that blouse?  It didn’t fit.  What is God trying to tell me through this dream?”

As I prayed I felt prompted to call a sister in the Lord to help me interpret the dream.  We talked and prayed and this is what the Lord showed us.

Meaning of the Dream

God was confirming that I should be careful about what I allow others to put on me.  The blouse was beautiful but didn’t fit for the season I was in.  When we are about to birth things for the Kingdom of God we must “wear” or “put on” what is appropriate for that season.  Don’t ignore the smothering, too tight feeling we have in our spirits.  Don’t allow the enthusiasm of those approaching us to sell us into wearing something we are not supposed to wear.  

The hotel represented intimacy and getting away with God. My husband represented God.  Also, remember, my husband in the dream didn’t even care about what I was wearing.  He only had eyes for me.

I think that it’s also so important to remember that God cares not about what you do so much as who you are, and you are His bride.  His desire is for our company and true intimacy.  This is important because we should never allow the things we are doing for the Kingdom or others to take away from what is most important…our relationship with Him and our families.

The blouse itself was beautiful, but the comfy jean shorts were more appropriate for someone about to give birth.  When we are in the last stages of pregnancy we do not need to be constricted.  Be very careful of putting anything on that does not fit with the vision God is giving you for yourself and your family.  If He is dealing with you about spending more time with your family and an opportunity comes your way that will cut into that time, you may be about to fall prey to false responsibility.

The Trap of False Responsibility

False responsibility is a beautiful green satin blouse that in every way looks perfect on the hanger but isn’t right for us.  And while that blouse looks beautiful, it is binding.  We can’t move freely while wearing that green satin blouse of false responsibility.

We each only get a total of twenty-four hours per day to steward.  How will we spend that time? What cost will we pay when we allow false responsibilities to eat into our time, energy and resources.  Can you think of some areas where you feel trapped with your time and resources, perhaps feeling robbed of energy, peace and joy?

If you have struggled like I have with false responsibility, let us pray together.

Prayer for Release from Bondage of False Responsibility 

Lord, help me to recognize false responsibility when it tries to force itself upon me.  I will no longer buy into the enemy’s plan to distract me from what you truly want me to be doing.  Help me to “wear” the things that you want me to wear, so that I may be unencumbered as I birth new things for your kingdom.  Help me to tell the difference between your plans and the enemy’s trap of false responsibility.  Help me to recognize what is pulling me from intimacy with you.  Help me to also recognize what is having a harmful affect on myself or my family.  Show me what my true priorities should be.  Thank you for releasing me from any false responsibility in the name of Jesus.

Verse for Meditation

~ Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, …

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  • Reply Christine March 22, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Joanna, I think every woman involved in modern church life needs to read this post. It cut me to the quick, and I shared it as fast as my fingers could fly over the keys. Thank you for giving us permission to say “no” – and even let people down if we have to, to stay centered in God’s will for our lives, which involves sanity! 🙂 I appreciate your writing so much – can’t wait to see what you have for us next!

    • Reply Joanna Mayes March 22, 2017 at 7:34 am

      Wow! Thank you Christine! This one has been a huge trap for me. I do also want to add that those who are asking aren’t bad people. They are often doing very important work for the Kingdom as well and have the best of intentions. A good friend of mine told me something which has brought me a lot of peace. When she is trying to accomplish things for the kingdom if it comes together great. If the pieces don’t come into place she has great faith that God’s timing is always perfect. What may not be a good fit for me might be perfect for another person. That has been so freeing for me to see. God’s plans are bigger than me! Thanks for sharing and speaking such kind words!

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