A Spring “Yes”

It’s that time of year when I start to question my approach to productivity. It’s that time of year when I remember why the outdoors is one of my favorite places to be. It’s that time of year when I’m glad I live in a part of the world that has distinct seasons.

This spring isn’t that different from so many others I’ve had. The days are longer and getting warmer. The sun invites me outside and the garden smiles as I dive into my “dirt therapy.” Looking at what else needs to be done, I have to laugh at myself.

And yet I have many other things that need done, too. I have work and children, sports schedules and plans to keep, and a to-do list that seems to multiply overnight.

So often in life, I find myself questioning what in the world God’s thinking when he tosses something my way. What made him think I would do well with this or that? Why didn’t he pick someone better, someone more qualified, someone with more free time?

Then again, looking at Mary, I don’t really have a lot in my defense. She’s one of many who point the way to following God’s will, especially when it’s different from my will.

When she said yes to Gabriel, did she wonder why she was picked? Was she thinking of the women she knew who were better suited to motherhood or more situated in life for a pregnancy?

The Annunciation by John Collier

The Annunciation by John Collier

Saying yes to God doesn’t mean I can’t question it, wonder about it, ponder it in my heart. God’s ways are not our ways, and I have to trust that he knows what he’s doing.

Mary’s there for us as we struggle with those three letters, that one small word that can change the world. All too often, I turn down the opportunity to be like Mary, to say Yes with my arms unconditionally open to embrace God’s will. So often, my Yes comes out with a list of Buts:

Yes, but not if it requires sacrifice.

Yes, but not if You need extra effort.

Yes, but don’t make me cry.

Do I say Yes to the small hand tapping me on the leg, or do I ignore it and let him wander away to amuse himself? Do I say Yes to the little prompting to call a friend for whom I may be the only adult voice before dinner, even though I have other work to do? Do I say Yes to keeping my voice silent, instead of responding with a funny comment?

Sometimes, I forget that Mary had a hard life. I think of her crowned in Heaven and see her on the pedestal at church, and I forget about the scrapes and bruises of everyday life in Nazareth, the struggle at the foot of the Cross, the tears outside the tomb.

I forget that the weight of that first Yes weighed on her for her entire life.

Where did she get her strength? What was her secret?

Mary’s secret is not a secret at all: her faith never wavered. God gave her the strength she needed, but she had to say Yes to His help. Looking to her, I can see the trail she blazed for me to follow.

Can I cooperate with the grace God sends me all day long? Can I trust Him to know what’s best for me, though His plan may be different than mine? Can I follow Mary’s example and continue to say Yes through pain and joy?

Yes, yes, I can. (And so can you!) I can change my world, one Yes at a time.

Sarah Reinhard

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When Sarah Reinhard set off in her life as a grown-up, she had no idea it would involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons and had a lot of laughs. She’s online at snoringscholar.com and is the author of a number of books.

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  • JMC

    What a wonderful choice for an illustration for this article! I have never seen “The Annunciation” by John Collier before, but his portrayal of Mary as a 1940s or 1950s teen in bobbysox and saddle shoes really brings home that she was, essentially, just a kid. Of course, in those days, the day a girl became nubile was the day she was eligible for marriage, and menarche is something that can occur anywhere between the ages of 9 and 17. Tradition has it that she was about 13 or 14 at the time the angel Gabriel delivered his message, and that’s how old she looks in that painting. Thinking of how exaggerated most emotions are for teens, I conclude that poor girl must have been utterly terrified. It points to how powerful her faith must have been, to have said “yes” to such a proposition. “The Mystical City of God” by St. Mary of Agreda tells us that she went through months of agony, trying desperately to figure out how on earth she was going to explain all this to Joseph before she started to show. He noticed her growing “baby bump” long before she thought it was visible, and went through agonies of wondering what to do, how to approach her about it, before he was given the dream about which the Gospel tells us. And that was just the beginning.
    The Seven Sorrows of Mary begin with the prophecy of Simeon. But her trials began long before that incident.

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