I thank You God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. — e. e. cummings
Don’t you love the word yes? It’s so joyful and cooperative, it’s such a door opener. Just saying yes can make us and others smile. Try it. Say it out loud. See. You smiled, didn’t you? Yes has its roots in happy. And who doesn’t need more of both?
Yes can be a skylight for the soul, it can aerate our attitudes, and it can be a bridge over misunderstandings. Yes is a seal of approval, an Enter Here sign, a “permission granted” document.
Yes is powerful, permissive, and pleasing… most of the time.
Imagine the length of this yes. Karam and Kartari Chand were married for eighty-eight years and thirty-three days. Wow. As I write this, that’s one of the longest recorded marriages. I wonder, after the first seventy years did he still remember to take out the garbage and did she still gripe about his manners?
One of my biggest yeses was on my wedding day fifty-one years ago July. That’s right, fifty-one years. My husband, Les, and I are amazed that we have survived each other, since we both are a bit much. We are taken aback that the years have flown by. Karam and Katari’s record both encourages us and scares us.
Only yesterday we were kids holding hands while walking the Lake Superior shoreline in Michigan, and the next thing we knew we were in rocking chairs side by side on our Tennessee porch waiting for our Social Security checks. Years turned into photo albums and senior discounts. Somehow, even though aging is the natural progression of life, when we said yes, we didn’t actually expect to get old like our parents. Yet here we are, smack-dab in the middle of prescriptions, indigestion, and leg cramps.
Today when Les and I wake up, we aren’t as flexible as we once were, so our leap out of bed is more like a rolling groan; but we sure are grateful to still be here. It just sounds different than our youthful squeals of delight at the dawn of a new day. We continue to learn, though, that a yes to God helps us enter even our limitations with more gusto.
No one grows old by living. Only by losing interest in living. — Marie Beynon Ray
Trying to decide how to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary last year was a long discussion because Les and I had different views.
There was no yes between us. I was thinking Paris; he was thinking we should rent a theater down the street from our house and show a movie. Movie? What? A Series of Unfortunate Events? C’mon, fifty years deserves France or Italy, not Bugs Bunny meets Daisy Duck at a tractor pull. But neither of us could find a yes for the other’s ideas until… drum roll, please… we settled on an open house. Yep, open house. Sounds uh, well, dull, but I assure you it was a gala event.
It was an evening full of flowers, food, and magical music. Our front yard and porch, thanks to the effort of friends, looked like a swanky Paris café. Peonies filled the atmosphere inside and out like a summer festival. And the food… think food fair on steroids. It was a luscious array of goodies you’d expect at the queen’s tea. And the music was, well, heavenly. A musician played an instrument called a Chapman Stick. If you haven’t heard one, you should. It’s as if a violin, guitar, and piano blended their voices to fill a room with a warm and glorious sound.
Oh, did I mention it was 104 degrees the day of our party? Well, it was. I noted that fact when the large frosting-flower slid off the wedding cake and splatted on the buffet. To cool down our guests so they, too, didn’t splat, we strategically positioned fruited ice water, sweet tea, raspberry lemonade, and sodas on the front porch.
Comedians Anita Renfroe and Ken Davis refreshed us with their style of entertainment. Anita’s revision of our wedding vows left us in need of oxygen, as tears of laughter poured down our faces and splashed on our ankles. Over a hundred moist guests filed through the front door to wish us well. What a celebration! We shall carry it in our memories always… we hope.
Les and I are so glad we both found a yes inside of ourselves for the gala event… and especially yes to each other on our wedding day.
Another huge yes in my life was when my heart opened to having God’s truth as my guiding counsel.
For years I was stuck in an emotional whirlpool, and it wasn’t until I was being sucked under by a wave of desperation that my cry for help changed. Instead of expecting God to fix me, I told Him I would do whatever He asked of me. From that time forward my life changed as I stopped talking about what I believed and began living it. It was as if yes unlocked a door within me. And I began a purposed study of God’s Word and how to walk in it.
The first thing that I did was get out of bed, get dressed, and start functioning in my home. I began putting others’ needs ahead of my fears, which were multiple, and I created new tapes for my mind. By that I mean my thought life was a tangle of negativity and criticism, so I began to memorize God’s Word to repair misconceptions and maligning attitudes. I was awash in darkened thought cycles, so I chose verses that brought them into the light of truth.
For instance, I had a wretched view of my worth, so I began bathing my mind in Psalm 139. It was hard to believe that God was present when I was being knit together in my mother’s womb, that I pleased Him, and that He loved me. I began rehearsing these truths, especially when I was in another tirade at myself and making scathing judgments like, “You are so stupid,” “You are so ugly,” “You can’t do anything right,” “Nobody likes you.” It takes effort to change destructive habits, so don’t be disheartened when you slip back into an old pattern. Extend grace and mercy to yourself… God does. Then begin again choosing life.
My mental health recovery started with a yes to God and to myself. The Lord invites us to be a part of our recovery. So don’t sit and wait for God to fix you; instead, get up and say yes to the Lord, to the new day, and to yourself.
Does that sound too simple? Too Pollyanna? Too rah, rah, shish koom bah? Trust me, I know how hard it is to change a lifestyle, a mind-set, and a belief system, because I have been in process for almost fifty years. I’ve never worked harder, and I’m still not done.
No one is. None of us outgrows our need for assistance. I understand the toil and time involved in the tempering of a heart and the transforming of a mind, and I can say with a resounding yes! that it’s worth the effort. Saying yes to Jesus was the path that led me to personal dignity, integrity, and to believing I had a God-given destiny.
By the way, set attainable goals so you don’t position yourself to fail. Don’t sabotage your own progress. Be sure to congratulate yourself for even small steps in the right direction. Be a cheerleader for yourself and others. This will take practice.
Yes is a radical word, whether it’s a wedding yes or a Jesus yes. So be rad and go yes your world!
1. What has been your biggest yes to date?
2. What are three things you can do to improve your interior dialogue?
3. Have you said yes to Jesus as Lord? If not, how about today?
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What are your answers to Patsy’s questions? Come join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear about your yeses!