In Gospels, Jesus implores our honesty when he says, “Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no” (Matthew 5:37). We have a lot of choices to make, both in the culture we live in and in this time of our lives. Even the places we shop show our culture’s indecisiveness. One of my mission partners was in the Air Force for many years. When she was on base over in the Middle East, she had only one or two choices for everything she needed to buy, but when she came back she was completely overwhelmed by what should have a mere trip to the grocery store. Every kind of food has multiple brands so that everyone has their pick. In an effort to please everybody, we have made life more difficult on ourselves. This variety of choices and the pressure to make just the right choice every time has made our generation more hesitant to make commitments, or many of us find ourselves over-committed and completely worn out. This exhaustion then makes it even more difficult to allow our yes to mean yes and our no to mean no. We don’t want to become even more tired with everything that is constantly striving for our attention and we’re worried that something better will come along and we’ll miss it.
Seeing as the multitude of choices isn’t going to change anytime soon, what do we do? Do we flounder through life getting anxious at every little conversation, afraid that someone might ask us to do something for or with them? Do we brush off everything and just binge watch Netflix or do homework 24/7? Neither. We must learn to find balance, and to do that, we need to figure out our priorities. First thing’s first. Who are you? The answer to this question will give you your priority in life. Your schedule then should reflect your priorities. If you are baptized, then you are a son or daughter of God. If you aren’t baptized, then you are an amazing creature who was made in the image and likeness of God Himself. If someone were to look at your daily schedule, what would they be able to tell about your identity? If not, then what is the next step for you? Sunday Mass? Daily Mass? Bible study? Daily prayer?
From this identity comes the yeses that we give. God isn’t simply asking us to say yes to Him once; otherwise, what would be the point of this life? If you only had to give one yes and everything was solved, then why doesn’t He, a loving God, just take us straight up to Heaven when we say yes? The Church invites us to another answer: this life is a pilgrimage. Our little yeses are incredibly important because they show what we are faithful to and that faith leads us to deeper intimacy with God and ultimately to full union with Him. “This is eternal life, that they should know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent” (John 17:3). We can’t know a God well who we don’t spend time with. A lot of times it comes down to integrity in the moment of choice. When you have set aside 15 minutes for prayer each day, but you have a lot of homework, do you still put everything aside for the 15 minutes you have scheduled in your calendar for Christ? St. Therese of Lisieux said “The world’s thy ship, not thy home.” What we do on earth is part of the journey to our real home: heaven. That is what we are made for. He wants your whole heart, and that means a constant attentiveness to His voice. It will be significantly more difficult to say yes to God in the big plans of our lives if we aren’t faithful in the little things, and He has the most amazing plan for your life. He created you to do great things in His eyes.
Along with the faithfulness of little yeses, we seriously need to learn how to say no. With this step comes love of neighbor as well. When someone gives you an invitation, do you realize that they are inviting you into their life? Again, back to our identity as sons and daughters of the Father. Behind the e-mails and text messages is a person reaching out. This person is probably also busy and your little response, whether yes or no, will lighten the burden they are carrying. If someone invites you to his or her Bible study, do you see that they are a student like you, with homework, athletics, and extracurriculars, who has put time and energy into giving you a chance to encounter loving, virtuous friends and the almighty living God Himself in the Word? Last year my teammate Krystal always encouraged us to learn how to say no with the same amount of love that we say yes. As you continue through this semester, look at your schedule. Where are you spending your time during the week, at night, and on the weekends? Where is God inviting you to say yes, and to say no? Then comes the integrity in the moment of choice. You can do it with His help!