The Things We Say Yes To
I said yes to a little green house with a big garden and two rows of fruit trees. It’s like a mansion if your standard were teeny tiny houses. There’s a clothesline here, and the breeze beneath my shade trees is a gentle one. We’ve been waiting for a gentle time. We’ve been waiting for our own space and for silence. We just didn’t know how to find it until I learned how many no’s it takes to make a yes.
I said yes to quiet. The drive into town is longer than I’m used to. I drive in silence. I come home and tell the boys to read. I sit beneath the ceiling fan or on the patio. I reach for my cell phone and jerk my hand back quickly. I sit and watch. Doves blow up from the harvested corn. The pears are beginning to fall.
These are little things that remind me that I am small: the silence and then the burst of insanely loud laughter and wrestling, a dish-stacked kitchen with no dishwasher, a hydrangea with heavy laid-down heads, four hall drawers to fit what used to go in an entire room. This one yes has taken at least a thousand no’s. Only half my clothes fit in the closet. Half is all I needed. When half was all I had, it was all I wanted.
When we said yes to scaling, slowing, and quieting down, it wasn’t really saying yes to less work. We said yes to better work. I said yes to picking squash and researching how to harvest hazelnuts. These are things I love. I said yes to the work of closeness, the children always within the reach of a whisper.
These are little things we’ll look back and remember. I said yes to living small. I said yes to what I call a beautiful life, and it surprises me. Work boots and scrub-gloves on, I can hear God in this place.
Time for a little math. How many good no’s will it take to make one great yes? Start with one. Perhaps say no to answering emails after 5:00, or to TV past 11:00 on a weekday.
This message was written by Amber C. Haines and appears in A Moment to Breathe, a 365-day devotional from the (in)courage community now available where books are sold.Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
This is some wise and redemptive math! No comes slowly to my brain and to my lips, but I want to do better at this. Thanks for this beautiful picture of how the equation has worked for you.
K Ann Guinn says
Yes, yes, YES! (Now just to figure out which “no’s” are appropriate. Wise words.
I read this. I feel the desire growing inside myself s the tears well up. I NEED to do better at it.
Amber Haines says
Oh Andrea, I really hope no one leaves this post telling themselves to do better. Maybe all we need to do is learn to rest in the abundance of Christ. Maybe that abundance will make our yeses and nos clear. I keep having to face how telling myself to do better actually only makes me feel defeated and like the power rests in me. Does that make sense?
Mary Hood says
I have spent years saying yes when it should have been no. Ooh, we get into trouble, and I am reaping! But yesterday I said NO! So this comes right on time, even though we have all heard it, but this time is on time! I came home from work around noontime with a plan to do some things for myself that are long overdue. I started and yes, the phone call came vying for my attention. I hemmed and hawed, but then it came out of my mouth. NO, I don’t think I can do that today. She even tried to change my mind, but I didn’t back down. And I got a lot (not all) done! And today I feel no guilt! Only peace.
Beth Williams says
Saying no doesn’t always come easy. People & things are always vying for our time & attention. As i get older I yearn for the smallness & quiet you talk about. The simplicity of enjoying what God has given us. Sure I enjoy helping people & doing God’s work-but even Jesus took time to be alone. We as a nation need to learn to say NO. No to the next big project, no to helping out in school plays, at church, etc. It can be hard to tell someone no, but in the end we will be thankful for the Yes we got in return. Yes to rest, cleaning house, spending time with family.
Thank you for these words. I spend so much of my time saying” Yes” to everyone else and neglecting myself.
I tell myself I’m doing it for the glory of God , serving others to show them Jesus, but many times my heart is just not right about it.
So…I’m learning to say” No” or “Not at this time/ Not right now” because there are more pressing issues….knowing that I cannot give to others what I myself do not yet have.
Even Jesus got away from the crowd to pray and rest.
Thank you for sharing your new found wisdom in such a forthcoming manner.
Be Blessed with continual Wisdom from above.
Robin Revis Pyke says
Beautiful Amber. Thank you for sharing. I mentor many young adult women and the one topic we frequently discuss are the small things in life that bring us the most pleasure. It’s the simple things, and our love for Jesus!
Pearl Allard says
Amber, THIS! “We just didn’t know how to find it until I learned how many no’s it takes to make a yes.” Will be pondering this for awhile. Profound. Thank you!!!
Kim B Smith says
Oh, Amber, You are speaking my life. I chose to do just this for 2017.
Your words are mine: “When we said yes to scaling, slowing, and quieting down, it wasn’t really saying yes to less work. We said yes to better work.” And yes, for me to be closer to God and be a better, healthier person!
Yes does mean yes and no means no! Always, nothing more, and nothing less.
LisAnne German says
This is exactly where I find God is talking to me. This is what He wants. My focus needs to be on him. I need the quiet with Him to be able to function outside of the quiet. This is what I want. Lord lead me to this place.