30 December 2018

What's Your Yes?

What’s Your Yes?
by Troy Cady

This past year our church made a deliberate choice to do less and to encourage our members to do less. Our year-long goal was to “create margin.”

I am convinced that busyness is one of the biggest impediments to a life well-lived. Learning to say “no” to the innumerable opportunities and demands that come our way is an important skill to develop, but it is hard to practice.

Our culture values “movers and shakers,” those who seem to have an endless amount of energy, and a limitless supply of new, exciting projects to pursue. We esteem those who get a lot done.

Just listen to how we introduce keynote speakers at special events to observe this phenomenon. We describe them in terms of their accomplishments. The longer the list, the higher the praise.

But what a person has done, however many degrees they’ve obtained, and what kinds of honors they’ve received can only tell you so much about the real person underneath all that activity. Who are they when they stop? Are they able to stop and just be present to themselves? Are they able to be present to others apart from the work that drives them, the purposes they are compelled to fulfill?  

I’d wager most of us would be under-whelmed by someone who told us that their resolution for next year is to slow down and rest more. Many would wonder, “Okay, fine: but what do you want to accomplish? What goals do you have that will help you really make a mark? What’s the next big thing for you?”

The problem is: if we keep living this way—just doing, doing, doing all the time—we can easily miss what’s most important right beside us. The most meaningful relationships we have are those that require a whole lot of wasteful time—time spent not to get something out of the other person or to change them as if they are a project of our choosing, but time spent just to be with them, to enjoy them, to be yourself with them. We need lots of no-agenda time, sharing thoughts, feelings, and stories that don’t have to get us anywhere in particular—except, perhaps, to a new place of togetherness, plain and simple.

At my church, we call this “a ministry of presence.” It’s a way of living that values just being together, listening and sharing, eating together, playing together, wasting time with each other just for the sake of friendship.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Grace is not a task. Peace cannot be forced. The things that matter most in life lie well beyond our strategic plans. At the end of it all, we will wonder most whether we loved well, not whether we accomplished enough.

As many of you reading this may be considering what resolution you might like to make this year to improve yourself, may I commend to you the simple practice of “creating margin” in your life so you can just be present to those right beside you each day? Do less to be more.

And, if this idea sounds like something you’d like to try, may I also mention one thing I learned this past year that could potentially be a help to you? I observed that many people, myself included, tend to think of creating margin as simply “saying no.”

But creating margin is more about your “yes” than your “no.” If what you are saying “yes” to is really important, the nos take care of themselves. The yes that is a full yes fills both your heart and your calendar. It becomes easier to say no when you know what your yes is.

I wonder: what’s your yes this year?


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