Let’s see…8663 days ago my life changed forever. I woke up that morning—with an initial feeling of uncertainty—got to my feet (I was sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor at that time), set my mind, and faced the day with joy and expectation. In the mid-afternoon, I met up with friends and family at a local church (in Louisville, Kentucky)…and there, and then, I said “Yes” to the most amazing and wonderful woman, Jeanne Lee Herrin.
“Do you take this woman…?” “YES! I Do!” And while I said the ‘yes’ with all joy and conviction, I’m not entirely sure that I was aware at the time that I was also saying ‘no.’ I was saying ‘yes’ to love, to passion, to commitment. I was saying ‘yes’ to a life together with my wife. I was saying ‘yes’ to hopes of family and adventures. I was saying ‘yes’ to no more lonely nights…no more empty apartments. I was saying a resounding ‘yes’ to so many things. But, I was also saying ‘no.’
In saying ‘Yes’ to my Jeanne Lee, I was saying ‘no’ to every other woman in the world. No more ‘new girlfriends’ (thank goodness!) I was saying ‘no’ to doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. ‘No’ to writing cheques down to negative balances the day before pay-day. ‘No’ to the concept of “my money”—it was and is forever now ‘our money.’ ‘No’ to a lackadaisical attitude towards my health—I was no longer just impacting my life; my health impacted my wife as well. In saying ‘yes’ on that amazing day, I was also saying ‘no’ to so many things for the rest of my life.
In my classes, I always set aside time to talk about this as well. As my students grapple with studies, families, work, and any other number of responsibilities, I strive to remind them (or show them) that when they said ‘yes’ to college, they also said ‘no’ to a lot of things—free time, parties every night, last-minute road-trips, and many more things that were once part-and-parcel of their lives.
When we say ‘yes’ to a spouse, ‘yes’ to a job, ‘yes’ to a home-purchase, ‘yes’ to an educational program, ‘yes’ to a television show we want to watch, ‘yes’ to Facebook, ‘yes’ to the latest technological gadget, ‘yes’ to cablevision—whatever ‘yes’ we agree to…when we say ‘yes’ to one thing, we say ‘no’ to something else.
As Christians, we must also recognize that when we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, we say ‘no’ as well. ‘Yes’ to Jesus means ‘no’ to our favorite sins. But, it’s more than that. I think Jesus was getting at this when he said to his followers, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Saying ‘yes’ to Jesus is saying ‘no’ to me… ‘no’ to what I think is right… ‘no’ to my crafty rationalizations… ‘no’ to my preferred worldview.
Yet, saying ‘yes’ to Jesus is also a whole lot more than just the ‘no’s’ I’ve mentioned above. ‘Yes’ to him is ‘yes’ to a full and joyful life; ‘yes’ to a community of faith and a family; ‘yes’ to hope and grace and possibility! In the life of faith, as in my married life, the 'yes' far outweighs the 'no.'