I grew up saying yes.
I had to say yes to hugging and kissing distant relatives, even if I didn’t want to. I had to say yes to going certain places and doing certain things, even believing certain things simply because my parents did. I said yes to everything friends and teachers asked, all out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of not being loved, fear of punishment.
But eventually I got my voice and learned to say no. And that “no” made me feel so powerful. It felt good to put up a boundary, or at least I thought it was a boundary. Do you want to hang out? No. Can you do this job? No. Want to come over for dinner? No. I felt safe in saying no. Safe because I was afraid and saying no lessened the anxiety, kept me in bed, under the covers. And that fear told me, Rachel. You might feel uncomfortable. They might not like you. You’re kinda awkward. You might fail. You might be left alone, abandoned. So I said no, in the name of having boundaries and taking time for myself. Those no’s isolated me, and at times, robbed me of new experiences. But I was committed to saying no, damn it. But saying no out of fear gets tiring.
Then, last summer, I started saying yes, and that yes came out of love. And saying yes has been my biggest adventure. I’ve had some really amazing adventures in my life, but honestly, choosing to say yes and choosing to be brave and trust has trumped them all.
When I moved home from Alabama in 2016, I got pretty stuck. Not saying no, not saying yes, but frozen in a dismal state, deaf to any request made of me. I took a job because it was my only option. I hung out with friends because I couldn’t stand my bedroom anymore. Living a life of beige, no yes’s and no no’s, just survival.
Then I was invited to the mountains.
All throughout scripture and even history, mountains are for spiritual encounters. And somehow, there was a teeny seed inside of me. I couldn’t see it or name it yet, and didn’t even know where it came from, but that seed caused me to say yes to the mountains. I almost said no- I would be visiting people that I only knew from being with other friends; friends who felt safe. What if they ended up not liking me? What if we didn’t have anything to talk about?
Stuck in a frozen state, I decided that any movement is good movement, and if the trip ended up a disaster, at least I’d be in the mountains.
So I chose to say yes. Like I was drawn by a magnet, I needed something different, so I took the risk on relationship.
Two days before my trip, old friends, who I hadn’t seen in 15 years, wished me a happy birthday and said, if you’re ever near Savannah you need to visit us. Well Savannah was on the way to the mountains, and that little seed prompted me to say yes again. But as soon as I sent the text I became afraid. What if we had nothing in common? I almost backed out and said no out of fear. But that little “yes seed” pushed me to say yes.
My trip to Savannah was amazing. The girls and I ended up being kindred spirits, like we were always meant to be together, and we stayed up late, smoking cloves and drinking coffee on their porch, amidst the Spanish moss. We stayed up telling stories, and I remember thinking, I was made for nights like this. My spirit soared. I slept that night, so thankful that I didn’t let fear stop me. That little visit made my “yes seed” grow a little bit more, having more trust in my being.
The next day I finished the drive to the mountains with butterflies in my stomach, the record of, what if they don’t like me? kept skipping in my head. But that trip was so incredibly beautiful, and I got to spend five days with people who made that seed grow and taught me how to say yes. I got to spend a week with my (now) precious family, and watch their “yes” life up close. And it was contagious. I envied it and decided to take baby steps and start saying yes out of love. Because when you say yes out of love, you’re truly safe. You’re letting yourself be blown by the wind, letting Papa lead your adventures, and deciding to be brave, which is truly our inheritance. And that week I got to watch people who followed that Wind, who trusted even when others thought it was foolish, who said yes even when afraid; who also taught their kids to say yes. And that whole week the seed kept growing, and laying in bed one night while I was there, I decided to embark on the adventure of saying yes out of love. Instead of fear ruling my being, I took the first step of letting Love move in.
I had lived a life of saying yes before, but it was different this time. The first season of saying yes was out of fear. My friend, Tyler, taught me that love and fear can’t exist in the same space, and you’re either choosing one or the other. Any decision, even a correct one made out of fear is still cutting yourself short, really robbing you of the chance to fly and an opportunity to trust.
Saying yes out of fear is completely different that saying yes out of love.
Fear makes you want to hide, to cover yourself and pull all of your soft parts inwards. It makes people acquaintances but never family. It limits your adventures. and causes you to live a life of comfort, instead of a life that soars.
Love causes you to trust, to love big and allow yourself to receive. Love makes you safe even in risk, because Holy Spirit wind is the greatest protector and the greatest adventurer. And i’m invited to soar in that wind and join the adventure.
Saying yes out of love is the greatest gift.
So this was my year of saying yes.
And this was also my year of risk and being afraid. But I chose to look fear in the eyes and choose yes out of love. Love for myself, love for God, and love for people. And it’s not perfect, but with every choice, I trust a little bit more.
Im now noticing the people in my life who say yes. And I can make a long list of relationships that are built on yes’s. And I find that I’ve always been attracted to those people, because there’s a certain comfort and authenticity when you find people who are also blown by the wind instead of frozen in fear.
And even now, though I feel high anxiety, wondering if I’ll make it, or if I’ll be eaten alive by anxiety and depression, I just keep repeating to myself, Papa knows the end from the beginning and its so good. So good. So good. So good. Choosing love instead of fear is an act of faith, believing that God is good and kind and for me.
So this year I said yes to trust after being in a traumatic accident.
I said yes to forgiveness instead of bitterness towards the person who hit and ran.
I said yes to making decisions based on passion and trust in the Wind instead of deciding based on money.
I said yes to doing projects even though I wasn’t confident in my ability at first.
I said yes to having my pieces in stores, even when I felt inadequate compared to the people around me.
I said yes to doing custom pieces, even though insecurity almost stopped me.
I said yes to new relationships and dinner parties and coffee dates.
I said yes to a new job which required me to come out of my shell.
I said yes to more road trips to the mountains, even when money told me it didn’t make sense.
I said yes to editing books, even though I hadn’t done that before.
I said yes to doing a styled photography shoot, meeting new people and networking.
I said yes to teaching eight workshops this year, facing social anxiety and choosing to be brave.
I said yes to wholesale orders, even when the quantity was overwhelming.
I said yes to professional help in my quest toward wholeness.
I said yes to writing about my struggles, which meant I couldn’t hide anymore.
I said yes to relationships instead of isolation.
I said yes to daylight instead of darkness.
I said yes to speaking my mind instead of silence.
I said yes to being brave.
And every time I say yes, the little shoot that began to grow last summer gets bigger. And with every decision I'm seeing strong trees built into my being, bursting out of my chest, with strong limbs and green leaves and tree rings that show a life of overcoming.
And I’m a part of a forest of yes’s. Part of the adventure.