Yes or No
When it all comes down to it, life could be summed up in these two simple words. The proper time to use these words is often the difficult part. Chances are a 2 year old’s favorite word is an emphatic, “NO!” As we grow we are taught manners and how to say “yes, please” or “no, thank you.” After all, a large portion of pre-school and kindergarten is being taught life lessons in how to get along with others and how to be polite – not just learning letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Years later a tumultuous middle school student might be passed a note in class which reads, “Will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend? Circle yes or no.” If you’re a fan of country music you’ll remember that George Strait made a ten gallon hat full of money asking this question in a song several years ago.
Many yes/no questions are easy to answer: “Would you like fries with that?” “May I help you with anything?” “Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon on vacation?” But something happens along the way…as we continue getting older we learn that saying “yes” all the time makes us seem like a pushover. Remember the credit card T.V. advertisement with David Spade? In case you’ve missed it, the jist of the whole commercial shows a cubicle-filled room of operators who are instructed to say “no” to any question that one may ask when they call the company. I’ll admit it draws a chuckle to see all the things that go wrong when one of the operators goes against company policy and says “yes” to a customer on the other end of the phone. But when the 30 second spot is over and the commercial set has been struck, having to say “no” to someone else or being told “no” in the real world is often a tough pill to swallow.
I often face having to tell people no at work. I struggle knowing if it’s the right action to take. Is this covered in my job description? Do I rearrange my schedule to help someone out? Or do I work above and beyond the call of duty with the end result becoming stressed and burned out? And as hard as it is to stand up for oneself, it’s the route we often need to take for our own health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual). Jesus himself said, Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No’…~ Matthew 5:37. As I write this, I have made a weekend escape to my parents’ house 150+ miles away from my own and have greatly enjoyed a Friday away from work. Does the world keep spinning when I’m not at work? Yes. Have people missed me being at work? Some yes, but sadly and truthfully, some no.
In order to make better yes and no decisions in relating to others in various areas of my life, I must remember one very important thing (shared with me by my brother in Christ, Aarik). *Note: this has revolutionized my life.* When the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40
So, our first calling is a given – to make the Lord #1 in our life and love him supremely. But notice the next part. The second is like it. Like it…of similar importance. We are to love others in a like manner that we love the Lord. Again, this makes perfect sense. However, we can’t expect to give of ourselves with Christ-like love and see results if we aren’t loving Christ first and foremost. It’s such a simple concept, but it illustrates so clearly the need for our true priorities to be founded upon the Lord first. After this, our relational life with others will fall into place as it should.
Weekends like these are good reminders that I can and should say “no” every now and then and that my most important “yes” should be saying yes to the Lord. It is then that I will be better equipped to have the proper balance in knowing how to say “yes” or “no” to the decisions in my life.