“We Are the sum of every Yes that we utter”…
I just read that in the book “To be Told” by Dan Allender. He is a thickly wordy, PhD in psychology kind of author who sees God in in the story of humans. If you like that kind of thing, you’ll love Allender.
Anyway…The sum of every yes…what a pretty way to think about choices. The mundane and dramatic, leading to the total amount of who we are. Saying yes often takes you out from where you are into a place you may be a little scared and unprepared to be. The new job, the date, the move…it’s all yes and then hold on. It’s a word said in a moment where hope outweighed reality.
Sitting here, taking perhaps a little too long to process one sentence, I am the current result of all the things I had the bravery or stupidity to say yes to. I have used my time on earth in ways that have lead me here and until I’m dead, every decision I make, even in my response to another’s yes, will have an infinite number of possible outcomes…blessed and disastrous. ‘Yes’ to a new business, ‘Yes’ to a speaking engagement, and ‘yes’ to committing to a life changing habit. Yes is the reach before falling or flying. Regardless of the outcome, yes starts the fire to cook or be cooked.
Saying No… that’s always there too. But its power lies in subtracting and protecting. It’s the thing we don’t do or believe in order to add value in another direction…another faith. Saying no is saying yes to unchanging. Saying no, is to hold the agreement that I’m not going that way, or, I’m not moving, but it doesn’t necessarily know which way to go. It isn’t bad and may many times be necessary, but it only exists in the absence of desire and it seems static to the kind of movement that is the fallout of “Yes.” No is simply what’s left in the wake and the shadow of your yes.
All of our lives we make agreements. We say ‘yes’ to more than questions. We spend our lives deciding who we are going to believe and how we are going to live. As we live, every Judgement held either for us, or against us, demands our” yes” to hold any power over us. Every opportunity or challenge we say yes to is in keeping with who we have already agreed that we are.
Who do you say that you are?
Who or what has drawn a yes from your frightened lips in order for you to answer that question? Do you even know why you said it? Can you look back and see what it was that you wanted?…and did it go how you thought it would go?
I’ve said yes to everything from marriage, to divorce, to world travel, to nonprofit work, to business ownership, to marriage again. I’ve said yes to love, and yes to hate. To wasteful thinking and to what I thought had purpose.
I’ve said yes to good things and bad, and each time was the result of who I agreed that I was, and what I believed would be fulfilling. I’ve said yes to what I deep down just wanted to do and to what I felt compelled to do for others. I’ve said yes many times…so have you…
I’m willing to bet each time led to movement. Disruption. Transition. If you say it often enough, it will turn your life into something unrecognizable and that can either be very bad or very good. It depends very much on the quality of the yes’s preceding it. When I have said yes to the things that God has carved into my heart and story, it’s always been miraculously disruptive. You are the sum of a great number of agreements. Still, every broken decision to agree with what is destructive offers the redemption of another yes. That’s what grace is…grace is God’s yes.
So where does your yes come from and how do you harness it into what leads toward where you ultimately want to go?
It is your deep desire. Your gut place. The longings in the heart and hope in the mind.
My unwise ‘yes’ is the result of unhealthy desire and sick hope. Catastrophically bad decisions are bred in a hundred lesser malignant interactions before them. Remember, you are the sum of your agreements and therefore the progeny of your dark desire as well as your productive hurt. It’s why we need grace for others and ourselves in the face of a really stupid yes. It’s why the next yes is important.
If I bring it down to a practical example, then the cake you binge on tonight is the result of saying yes to the futility of this day, like all days before it. If you walk the weeks, months and years backward you might see a parade of agreements to body image issues, stress mismanagement, and self-medicating. Binging on cake then, while common enough…is the sum of all your agreements to self-destruction. Even more seductively, It is your “yes” to comfort and your “no” to health. It is acknowledging that the world is hard and unpredictable, and cake feels good. Therefore, feeling good, comforted, social, happy, whatever…those things have your heart…and your heart says yes.
Yes, is a reflection of your value system.
Healthy or unhealthy, the thing you agree to do is a direct expression of the person you agree you are and the deepest desire of that person at any particular moment.
I am a personal trainer, a weight loss expert, if you will allow such a glorified definition. When working with anyone, I always ask why, and I continue to ask the same person the same question over and over again, sometimes for years… because most people don’t know their own answer, and many pay no attention to the story their life is telling, even fewer recognize when the two are in contradiction. Most people don’t realize that they are already living out their highest current value system…they just don’t like the result. They don’t like the sum of all their previous yes’s. They hire me to sort it out.
Journeying through body change is essentially an exposure of beliefs, the reality of ones circumstances, inherent values, and integrity. So it’s always seemed kind of cheap to dumb it down into a before and after picture, but it’s the language of the day so that’s what I sometimes do. For me however, the point isn’t to get a shockingly magnificent body transformation that allows you to feel confident wearing the latest fashion thing if that doesn’t fill the emptiness of your soul. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep anyone from trying, and social media has infinite evidence of anyone tiring of that anytime soon.
Likewise our daily lives, our jobs, our families, our future hopes and dreams…all reflections of what we have said yes to…all the expression of who we agreed that we are. Even our social media accounts are an artistic arrangement of the idealized self. Its not entirely wrong but it is entirely damning in its exposure.
Yet I hope and I wonder, if I were to use a higher question, if I were to acknowledge my creator, would my yes be the same kind as its been…or can it change? Can I fix my heart on an unchanging God so that it changes my deepest desire? Sometimes beautifully hidden things come from the desire for love, adventure, meaning, or purpose. When your heart says yes from your God given desire, however imperfectly executed, it’s usually overwhelmingly accurate.
As we enter a brave new world and leave quarantine, what relationships, what events, what commitments will get our yes?…what foods, what habits, what activities? There has been an unexpected break in rhythm. Life is different now and we have an opportunity to change our answer.
Who do people say you are?… and did you agree with them on purpose?
Yes, to a different pace…that may be slower…or faster if you’re lazy.
Yes, to moving forward with bravery…you’re still alive… so maybe consider why.
Yes, to health in all its forms…try again… but be honest.
Yes, to knowing who God says you are…It may change every yes you say from now on.
If we are the sum of every yes, then what will that equal when all added up? If you have lived through this, you are still most likely going to die later…most likely. I think It’s not a bad question to ask yourself if you think you’ll like the answer…I hope. it’s yes.
If not, I hope you know that the numbers aren’t all in yet. You can change your answer. You can seek a God who says yes to who He created you to be and let each decision add up to something devastatingly miraculous. He redeems years that locust have eaten, He is yesterday and tomorrow, He says Yes and Amen.