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?
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.