Friday, April 20, 2007

Yes and Amen: The Magnificent Power of "Yes"

This post presents the flipside to a previous one, entitled "Thou Shalt Not: The Staggering Importance of 'No'"

Parents must tell their children "no." To say ourselves nay sets us apart from every rabid coyote in the world. It makes us human.

Equally important, equally stunningly important, is "yes." If no makes us human, yes makes us like God.

Witness God's first recorded words: "And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light." From God's "let there be"--His first, incredible yes--we have come. Our earth has come. The heavens have come. "Yes" is creative power: it is all possibility, all adventure, all life.

The power to say yes is an oft-overlooked part of parenting. I am not a parent, and I see how this principle applies to every relationship in life. We all, sometimes, exercise this power in the lives of others. Yes, come in. Yes, talk with me. Yes, I'll hire you. Yes, I'll help you. Yes.

Still, it is parents who speak the first and most important yes's in the lives of their children. If most of us have done anything unusual or wonderful in our lives, chances are it was the yes of our parents that got the ball rolling. I wish I could help everyone see how amazing this is, what creative power we have in shaping lives. I wish we all understood the explosive joy, the growth, the energy latent in this word.

Don't misunderstand. I am not at all saying that you should say yes to everything. That's why parents are so important. They're older than their children; they have a bigger picture. Theirs is a yes of discernment. But when they give it, it opens such doors.

My brother wants to build a house when he's nineteen. (He's almost fifteen right now.) Maybe that goal will change. But we think it a worthy goal. A goal fit for a young man. If he works for it, he'll develop work habits and character and skills. Someday it will help him provide for a family. My parents have heard this goal, and they have said "yes." They'll help him however they can. Perhaps he can apprentice somewhere; perhaps he can get onto a construction crew in a couple of years. Right now he's got a paper route, so Mom and Dad encourage him to work hard at it, to be diligent and responsible no matter the weather or his feelings at the time, and even though on the surface Pennysavers don't have much to do with houses, the character he builds now will be there when he's nineteen. Attaining this yes means a lot of no's in the meantime--no, you can't quit; no, you can't be lazy; no, you can't allow yourself to be distracted. But as long as he knows where he's going, he'll take the no's for the stepping stones they are.

"Yes" can mean so many things. It can mean the formation of relationships that will impact generations. It can mean the difference between daydreaming and pursuit. The difference between excuses and passion. The difference between a life of fear and a life of adventure.

I don't know why we withhold "yes" sometimes. It's not always because we've discerned that yes would be a bad thing. Sometimes we do it because we're skeptical, or lazy, or just plain negative, or irritated over something. But it's such an important thing to say, especially if you have influence in someone's life. A life without "yes" will never be lived. Don't be the one who withholds it.

It's spring. Go outside and feel the sun and think "Let there be light."

Do something incredible today.

Say "yes."

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4 Comments:

Blogger Té la mà Maria said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:02 PM  
Blogger DigitalRich said...

Thank you for participating in the Carnival of Family Life 51st edition! It's up and running at DigitalRich Daily.

DigitalRich

8:56 AM  
Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Rachel, Great thoughts here! Oh how important this is. Children are impacted and unfortunately the negative tone is passed down from generation to generation. Though just the opposite can surely occur. Great to read of this in your family!

4:31 PM  
Blogger FatcatPaulanne said...

Wow, what a great post. You are truly a gifted writer.

4:00 PM  

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