I recently did an activity with my team where we practiced giving ourselves permission. I shared that we are trained our whole lives to ask for permission for basically anything and everything. Nothing in life really teaches us that we can give ourselves permission. There is always someone else, an authority, that we look to for this. But sometimes, you are the only person who can actually grant yourself permission for something you need. And choosing to give it can be an act of self-compassion. So I gave them sticky notes and told them to write down on them a few things they want to give themselves permission to do or be or experience.
You might need to grant yourself permission to say no to something or someone. That is a big one for me. Being a 2 on the enneagram (and let’s just say it, a people-pleaser), it is hard for me to believe I have the right to say no, especially without a very legitimate, explainable reason. People can (and do) take advantage of this, but let’s be honest, it ultimately falls on me for constantly saying yes when I shouldn’t or don’t want to. Husband is very good at helping me say no (which is a very specific thing my Mom prayed for as I was growing up but that is another story). We are allowed to say no, for no other reason than you just don’t want to.
I was recently thinking about the difference between saying yes because it is the right thing to do and saying yes because I feel like I should. This is a distinction I’d like to examine in my life moving forward. If a friend asks for a favor and I don’t feel like I can say no even if I don’t want to do it, then I’m not even doing it for good reasons. Is it even worth doing? Please share your opinions. I don’t know the answer.
Or maybe you’re looking for permission to say yes. Maybe it is a new, exciting opportunity but you don’t feel deserving or qualified or available (or whatever it is for you — fill in the blank). What if today you need to give yourself permission to say yes? To believe that God wants and has good things for you. Maybe it is a relationship that feels scary because it is new. Maybe it means letting other things go that feel difficult to walk away from.
It is possible this is what all of it comes down to — what I will hereby name “permission theology.” We are sitting around waiting for God to make it abundantly clear what we should do or how we should spend our time or how much happiness we are actually “allowed.” And here is the truth: He is a God of abundance. He is the giver of good gifts, He tells us that in His Word. He offers us choice — we can take it or not. I feel like we often view anything good as a bad thing: it is distracting us from God, surely this can’t be from Him, I mean why would a good God offer you good things?? That makes no sense at all.
So maybe God is giving you permission to decide for yourself. Maybe sometimes He offers you a few different doors and there isn’t a “right” door that the grand prize is hiding behind. Consider the crazy idea that God isn’t a game show host trying to trick you or make you play the odds.
It could be a million things: permission to…rest, hope, grieve, change, leave, stay, give, keep, create (that is mine right now!), fail, succeed, and the list goes on. What is it for you?
I would encourage you today to write down a few things you can give yourself permission to do or be. Where are you struggling in life or what are you wondering about? What do you need permission for? And who is it that you believe can grant that to you? Why can’t you?
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11