Signals for the Yes

As we embrace a kind of holy indifference for those things which are not our responsibility (at least not for now), we discover new energy for those peculiar spaces we are meant to inhabit, those conversations that perhaps we alone can pursue, that obscure work that few notice and might go entirely ignored unless we stray from the pack and get to it. So long as we expend our energy churning to keep up with everyone else’s burning emergency, we have no energy for the one life we must live. Inevitably, we find ourselves bone-weary, guilt-laden or perhaps worst of all – a cynic unable to live open, generous and free.

Last week, a good friend reminded me of David Whyte’s words I’ve long appreciated: “the antidote to exhaustion is not rest but wholeheartedness.” To be sure, rest and leisure, kicking up the feet and laying low for a spell, is more than necessary. Yet, our deep weariness comes whenever our skill, energy or hopes do not burn from that deep truth God has tattooed on our soul. To live wholehearted, we must say no to many worthwhile things, and we must say yes to a few absolutely essential things.

I’ve happened upon a few signals (and I’m sure there are more) for how to know where my yes should be. I pay attention to the tears, particularly those moments where my heart takes a prick and I don’t know exactly why – this is a path I should follow. I pay attention to the joy, those jolts of delight or pleasure that always make me more alive, more gentle, more bold. And I pay attention to the quiet, those occasions where I sense a conviction of something I must do – but I don’t want to talk about it just now. It’s a smoldering fire; there’s heat but also a reticence to draw too much attention.

26 Replies to “Signals for the Yes”

  1. Thanks for these wise words, Winn. I only recently heard the reference to exhaustion’s antidote, so seeing you flesh this out so helpfully means a great deal. So, “yes” to your words that clue us in to the “yes” of our lives. Again, thanks.

  2. I haven’t been commenting, but I want you to know your words are ones I seek out and have a deep impact on me. I am praying that in your ongoing grieving you feel that rest, that freedom. Thank you for pastoring those of us that need your wisdom. I’m truly grateful for your influence on me.

  3. Both this and last week’s post have really spoken to me for all kinds of reasons–the getting distracted by others’ ministries and thinking those have to be mine (they don’t), the grinding hard work of building an audience as a writer that feels like one step forward and three back, and the sense that it’s time for me to focus more on that writing, and see what God has for me next. You’re so wise and your words are a gift. Peace of the Lord be with you always…

  4. Thank you, Winn for this piece. I am finding your words here to be true, that there are things that we just know we must do. A burning desire in the stillness, to light the way for our next steps with Him. Thanks for sharing your writing with the world!

  5. Wanting words to say well how much this meets me today…this message will be before me as I move forward. Thanks so much!

  6. These profound words touched the deep place in my heart and I feel I need to know more about this.
    There is a great need for this teaching.
    Please share more when you are able to,
    Mary, New Zealand.

  7. Hit the target, Winn. I’m reminded of something a wise friend once said to me. She’d asked me to be involved in something, and I couldn’t quite decide whether to say yes or not. I didn’t have the enthusiasm (or conviction) to say yes, but I guess I felt like a heel if I said no to helping her. When I finally told her, “I’m not sure how I could say no.” She quickly responded with something like: “Oh, if you don’t sense a ‘yes,’ then you need to say no. You need to be available for when the yes-opportunity comes your way.” Boy was she right. Not long after another opportunity came my way, and my spirit leapt with an immediate YES! And I was free to follow that.

  8. Winn,

    Thanks for pressing us, gently, individually, toward “those peculiar spaces we are meant to inhabit.” Very dignifying and animating.

    Here’s to those who, like me, need a little practical freedom in our lives in order to experience the beautiful antidote of wholeheartedness.


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