|This is what saying yes to a walk in the sun looks like.|
I am really good at saying, “yes.”
“Yes, I am happy to help you with that project you are a month late starting and is due tomorrow.”
“Yes, I can drive your children to Nebraska on Friday.”
“Yes, I would be thrilled to taste test your meals to ensure there is no poison in them.”
I exaggerate, but what I mean is that I actually have a history of being really terrible at saying “yes.” “Yes” is an art form. “Yes” requires the ability to weigh pros and cons in BOTH the lives of those asking and in your own. “Yes” when doled out too liberally leads to exhaustion on one end of the spectrum and crabbiness and lashing out at others on the other end. I’ve been working for quite some time on becoming better at saying, “no.” I thought this work meant that there was greater strength in the word “no” than in the word “yes.” What I’ve discovered, though, is that saying “no” appropriately gives strength back to the word, “Yes.” Saying yes in these instances goes from being draining to being affirming. When your “yesses” are balanced they are an opportunity to improve your life, and maybe even the lives of others.
Last night at Beer and Bible we were discussing the Gospel narrative of Martha and Mary. (Luke 10:38-42) Some of the conversation turned toward who chose the “easier” route in that story. Martha was bustling around preparing food and tidying up for their visitors. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to listen. There are, obviously, cultural and historical elements at play but there is also the decision to say yes showing here. Mary said, “no,” to many of the traditional responsibilities choosing instead to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from and be in fellowship with her friend and teacher, Jesus. This doesn’t mean that Mary is a better person than Martha; rather, in this instance, Mary is prioritizing something that will feed her soul. We talked about the way that Martha “brings Jesus’ rebuke upon herself,” because Martha goes to Jesus to tattle. If Martha were happy going about her tasks this interaction wouldn’t have happened. Sometimes we have to say “no” to the things that will deplete us in order to have the energy we need to say “yes” to the things that will feed us. Sometimes we just need to say, “not yet” to the things that are necessary but not urgent to take advantage of a passing opportunity. Martha was doing work that may have been necessary, but Jesus was reminding her that it was not urgent.
I am not entirely rehabbed from my “yes/no imbalance disorder” but my recovery is going well. I am using this vacation as an opportunity to practice the art of saying “yes” in my personal life. Today I said yes to something very important to me. I’ve been contemplating participating in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training for the past several years. Each time I’ve thought about it I’ve come up with a reason to say “no.” Those “No”s came from a place of a place of fear. They came from a place of unbalanced priorities. So today I said, “yes!” I am thrilled that I will be training to run in Tufts 10K on October 14th. That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. I’m terrified. I’ve committed myself to getting into the best shape of my life and running 6.2 miles 3 months from now! I will need all of your help. And I will need to say “yes” to many more things to make this possible. I hope you will visit my personal event page where you can learn more about that decision, about the Team in Training, and about my fundraising for a foundation aiming to rid the world of the cancers that took my mother’s life and that my dad fights each day. (It’s like 2 blog posts for the price of 1!)
What could you say “yes” to that would make your life better right now?
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