A very wise woman once told me: Just say Yes! – no matter what. She backed this up with a quote from Dag Hammarskjold: “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come,Yes!” Now, Mr. Hammarskjold was a Swedish statesman: Secretary General of the United Nations 1953–61: Nobel Peace Prize 1961. So, I take his counsel quite earnestly! These quotes have both scared me and saved me. That may sound odd; nevertheless, it is true.
Think about the times you said no – or stopped short of taking that ‘leap of faith’. What if you had said yes? Would you be where you are today; would you be doing what you are doing today; what might be different if you had said ‘yes!’?
Allow me to share a story with you.
My son was about 8 years old and he came home from school one day with a grand announcement: Guess what, Mom? I said you would be our Cub Scout Leader! We need a leader and I think it would be fun to be a Cub Scout! Don’t you think it would be fun to be our Leader? They said you really don’t have to know anything – so I thought it would be a good job for you. How ’bout it, Mom? Here is the number of the lady and I told her you would do it, so you gotta call her right now and get it all set up.
Wow! How do you say no to that? Of course, he ran off to play and I had this glazed, stunned feeling that I had been ‘had’ by an 8 year old! I am not sure if I was more amazed that he ‘volunteered’ me to do something I had absolutely no idea how to do, or if it was the sheer confidence he had, or how his statement: ‘you really don’t have to know anything’ spilled from his little lips so easily! What is a mother to do?
Call ‘the lady’ and say Yes! So, I did. I mean, he was so excited – how could I not?
Later that evening, it hit me. I could be influencing the lives and well-being of not only my son, but of eight or nine other young innocents! What in the world did I say Yes to? Is it too late to back out? Would my son ever ask me to do anything that seems so important? I hate camping – do Cub Scouts camp? What about tying knots? The only knot I remember from my Girl Scout days is a square knot – and I have to repeat “right over left and under; left over right and under”. What about the flag? Don’t they do special things with the flag? All this self-limiting’ chatter. Maybe it’s not too late to call ‘the lady’ back and tell her this is a terrible mistake. A leap of faith that this will be fine is one thing – actually doing it is quite another! Look at all the reasons (excuses, justification…) I have to say no.
And now, 30 years later, I say ‘Thank you!’ What an incredible, enlightening, courageous, fulfilling and fun experience it was to lead a pack of 10 young boys in their discovery of the world of and through scouting. It was a leap of faith. Faith that surely someone would be there to guide and support me. Faith that if I did make a mistake (and there were many!) our pack would be okay and we would all learn. Faith that my son would see that Mom does know some things – or at least can figure them out! Faith that someday, this dress-rehearsal in leadership and resilience would serve me well.
I am grateful to those young boys and their parents for the wonderful lessons and experience, as I did take much of the learning with me on my life journey. The understanding of how to motivate and excite a group of people; how to share facts and information in an exciting way; how to develop awareness of differences in nature and people and beliefs; how to listen with an open and empathetic ear/heart; how to be still and to be present to what is in front of me right now.
Sometimes, all we need to do is to breathe and to say ‘Yes!’ That simple word can transport you into a journey of (and for) a lifetime.
What do you do when you are falling apart and there is no one there to save you?
This is a question that one courageous young man put out on Face Book today.
It is the middle of a cold, dark night. It seems everyone else in the world is sleeping. This young man, however, is rudely awakened by nightmares at 2:00 in the morning. There is no going back to sleep now. This isn’t the first time – and it likely will not be the last.
So where does one go after waking like this? The only people in the house are teenagers who have to sleep for school tomorrow. The dog, while disturbed when the young man awoke, is now back to sleep. The cat never stirred. He went to Face Book. Most likely, hoping someone else was awake – one of his friends, perhaps, to give words of encouragement, hope.
And friends responded in a positive and supportive way. Words of encouragement, open invitation to call, reminders of how he had been through rough times and ‘you got this’ support. Sometimes, social media is a life-line for people who do not know where to turn at their most vulnerable moments.
Where does one go – when they feel hopeless and helpless?
Reach out. Just as this young man did. Reach out to family, friends, social media, counseling, clergy… Call on the people who love and support you. Yes – they DO! Most people have been in that cold, dark place at some point in their lives. No one really wants to be there – or see others there. And if you are the one who is being called upon or who answers that call – – the words “I am here” can be that life-line!
Reach in. Breathe deep and look at what you have accomplished. I know there are wonderful things you have done. You have contributed to others (whether they acknowledged or appreciated…you did contribute). You have come through the muck and mire and you are still here, so you are a survivor! Dig deep – look, see and tell the real truth about what a contribution you are.
Reach up. I rarely talk spirituality in my messages; nevertheless, this time it is a point I want to be clear. Reach up is ‘let go; let God’. There are times in our lives (more often than we may like to admit) when we simply must let go in order to continue. When did you last take your troubles, worries, fears, concerns and yes, your nightmares and hand them over to God? Does He ‘fix’ them? Perhaps not. Does knowing they are out of your hands, out of your control and that someone else has ‘got this’ bring you at least some sense of breathing space? Of relief? Of ease?
What does reach out, reach in, reach up really do? It creates space and shifts the focus of our attention to something worth thinking about. It is getting support and acknowledging our accomplishments and our value. It is giving our worries to someone (or something) bigger than us – even for a bit of time.
Often, the night seems to bring out the worries and concerns and nightmares that we are too busy during the day to address.
There is a saying my folks often shared. While there is some disagreement as to the origin of this quote, there is a consensus that it was authored by an English theologian and historian: “It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.” – Thomas Fuller. Today, it has morphed to: It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Why do we say that? Most of us understand the encouragement these words are meant to bring. When we are going through “dark” times, it is a reminder to have faith and hope; it’s encouraging to believe that good times are right around the corner. I take this to mean that even when I feel I am in (what I think are) the most terrible of times, I can have hope. Hope can be very powerful. Hope helps us take another step to live another day with hope of a better tomorrow.
The young man, awakened at 2:00 am from a recurring nightmare.
He is not alone.
He knows to reach out, to reach in, and to reach up with faith and hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day.