When God Says Yes

Cover of "Yes"

Cover of Yes

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

 

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Leavin’ Me Breathless

Minor road leading to Żelechów, Poland.

Image via Wikipedia

Today I took a rather wonderful hour-and-a-half-long walk around my neighborhood.  It was gorgeous out, albeit a little windy, and I had a little skip in my step as the cool hint of Fall gently kissed my cheek.  The sun peeped out from behind clouds which seemed to threaten rain, but managed to restrain themselves.  Justin Bieber serenaded me in my own personal concert (baby, baby, baby, OHHHHH… don’t judge) as I marched along, left, right, left, right, breathing in peace and breathing out all of the pent-up anger and frustration I’ve been carrying with me lately.

At the beginning of my walk, I went at a slower pace to warm up.  Upon starting up my first big hill, my arms swung with a little more intent, my water bottle met my lips a little more frequently, and my legs began moving in power mode.  The hill was pretty large.  My breathing began to feel a little more labored and my side started to kink up a little, but still, I powered through.  Reaching the top was a welcome relief, though my hips were starting to ache and my abs were starting to make their presence a little more known.  My pace started to slow a little as Carrie Underwood sang to me about her cowboy casanova.  I mapped a route out for myself of possible places I’d like to go.  I had a general idea that I wanted to get up to the grocery store before eventually meandering on back home, so I turned down a street that looked familiar from a past bike ride and hoped for the best.

My pace started to pick up a little and steadied itself at a fast walk as I worked my way through the neighborhood.  My surroundings started to look less than vaguely familiar, but Bruno Mars started to sing about how I can “…count on me like 1, 2, 3,” so I kept on keepin on.  I surprised myself  by finding myself on the exact opposite side of the grocery store than I intended, which added quite larger distance than I originally intended on.  No big deal, though.  I just powered through the swarms of moms with their full shopping carts, making sure to smile and say hello once in a while.  Eventually I found myself down by my church and I realized that I wasn’t so tired anymore. My pace was consistently fast, my breathing even, my hips not as creaky, and my smile a little less forced.  I started to feel good about myself, good about the way my body was moving, good about where I was in life.

At that moment, I felt God’s presence just a little more than before.  I thought about the stages of my walk and what I could learn from them.  I thought about how lately things have been rather up and down.  There are days where I’m confident in where I am and where I am going.  There are days where my plan doesn’t work out the way I expected it to, and I am momentarily lost, but eventually wander back on the right path.  And there are days where I am climbing up hills with a cracking knee and splitting side and I wonder if I can even finish what I started.  But then I realized that had I stopped at the first tough hill I had to climb, I would have been left with pain.  The idea was that I kept walking and I kept pushing myself through it, and eventually I found myself in a place where I was experiencing some kind of “Walker’s High.”  Despite the struggles at the start of my journey, I found that my body adapted.  I grew a little more confident in myself and was proud of how far I had come.  And then I grew determined to finish with a bang, so I walked home the way with the other big hill. I knew I could do it, because I knew that God was with me.

So all in all, it was a good walk today.  A necessary reminder of the truth in the saying, “If you find yourself going through hell, keep going.”  It gets better, friends.  Just keep pushing through.  You will make it.