I focus a lot on God’s “no”s.
No, Sara, you will not be a youth minister this year.
No, Sara, you will not date that boy.
No, Sara, you will not get down to your goal weight in one year.
It frustrates me when God says “no.” I get confused. Each time I am always so certain that I am doing God’s will. And when that “no” comes, it’s like a kick to the face. Nos are awful. Nos can easily send a girl into a downward spiral of despair. Nos cause temper tantrums resulting in overturned bookcases and countless awkward stares from passersby. It seems like Christian mentality focuses on this element of suffering, and where is God in this suffering, and how will we become stronger as we walk through the fire.
But what about those times where God lets us have what we want? What about those times where God says yes?
Those times are tricky. I think a lot of times we just kind of ignore God’s involvement in the yes. We forget how God has blessed us out of God’s love for us. We would rather think about how God totally hates us because we’re such screw ups and he’s going to punish us for the rest of our lives by denying everything that makes us happy and instead watch us suffer like the mean-kid-on-an-anthill-with-a-magnifying-glass-on-a-hot-sunny-day-he is. I know I do. I think it is so easy for me to fall into woe and despair. It is easy for me to blame my unhappiness on God. It is easier for me to blame my unhappiness on myself and my shortcomings.
But what about when God says yes? What about those times when our dreams are coming true?
I know you are probably sitting there thinking, Duh, Sara. You celebrate. But today I realized that God’s yes can be even more terrifying than his no.
You see, last Friday I was told that there was no placement match for me at JVC. I was extremely bummed about this… it ruined my entire weekend and really made everything that much more sad. I was so mad at God that I broke my Lenten promise just to spite him, I started to browse for other jobs, and started to apply for a different year of service on the opposite side of the country I had been otherwise focusing on. It seemed like God would always say no… that I would never be happy… that I didn’t deserve to be happy.
And then today I opened my email and found one that read, Congratulations! Placement offer! It wasn’t my first choice of placement… but it was the one where I remember feeling like I got along with my interviewers the best. It is for a volunteer and guest coordinator position at a soup kitchen based out of New York, which is where I would never in a million years imagine myself being at any point in my life. I am totally doubting myself now that I got picked for it. I’m just afraid that I am not going to be what they expect, and I am not going to do the job perfect enough. Now that I have this yes… I feel so much more pressure to not screw it up.
I think the scariest part of this “yes” is that it actually is going to make me move in a direction, rather than sit there and wallow. As much as I hate wallowing, its become so usual that its almost like an old friend. But now I can’t do that. Now I have to go out and do what I have been dying to do–make a real difference. Start making the world a little better than it was yesterday. Provide for others their most basic needs and treat them with the love and dignity they deserve. Let my passion for social justice breathe and burn.
This yes is a challenge, and I know that God expects a lot from me if he is willing to say yes. I know that these yeses are rare. This yes requires a lot of trust in a lot of different ways. And God wouldn’t say yes unless I was ready.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech