"So let your 'yes' mean 'yes' and your 'no' mean 'no.' Anything more or less is sinful." (Matt. 5:37)
Around Chicago, December has been quite gloomy. We have had rain, sleet, snow, fog, ice, floods, extreme cold, extreme heat, and yes, even a tornado warning. Most days lately, though, have been overcast - a veil of grey has seeped across the Midwest landscape. Blah.
This melancholy weather is similar to the way that Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) begins the movie Yes Man. He lives a miserable life doing the same, mundane tasks over and over again, with little joy to show for it. In a sense, this gloominess makes Carl draw inward, avoiding people and saying "no" to any invitation and opportunity that comes his way. He just wants to crawl into his December-like hole and coast through the rest of his life.
That is until he learns to say "yes" (thanks to a Tony Robbins-like motivational speaker played by Terrance Stamp).
With the urging of an overzealous friend, he tries saying "yes" just a little more often - and finds that it ends with some good results (such as getting a midnight kiss from a kind stranger named Allison, played by Zooey Deschanel).
He continues his "yes" trend, and finds himself pulling himself out of his overcast rut. He learns to do things he never thought he'd ever do (bungey jumping, reuniting with old friends, helping the homeless, approving wild loans for poor, kindhearted souls at the bank he works for, and so much more), and he starts to love every minute of it.
While the method has its flaws (such as saying "yes" to a mail order Iranian wife or letting his friend trash his car), it teaches Carl an important lesson: make your life colorful.
It made me wonder, and it might make you wonder, if we have fallen into patterns, bad habits, introversion, or a general negative outlook on life. I know I have, and it's those times I find myself asking "Why are things going so bad?" - when the answer is staring me in the mirror.
What if we lived a life where we were more positive? Not a ooey-gooey smile-all-the-time giddiness, but really being positive about the situations presented to us? What if we first looked at the opportunities to any risk rather than the fears and concerns? What if we approached our problems with eagerness rather than anxiety? What if we looked to help others rather than helping only ourselves?
Perhaps every now and then, we need to be "yes men" - when a poor man asks for our help, when a friend asks to talk, or when an risky opportunity comes our way.
Like the parable of the talents in the Scriptures (Matt. 25:14-30), it was the servant who took the risk and said "yes" that reaped the greatest reward. Or like the disciples themselves who risked and sacrificed their livelihoods to follow Jesus - who said "yes" to His "follow me" - that had their lives forever changed.
Saying "yes" to new and bold opportunities, to those in need, and to exciting directions in our lives can make our world a lot more colorful - not bleak and frigid like a Chicago winter.
But saying "yes" isn't some kind of game, as Carl Allen was playing it in the movie. As Zooey Deschanel's character reminds him (not to mention other characters who try to get it into Carl's head), our "yes" must be a thought-out, genuine embrace of the new (even scary) world that awaits us on the other side of the word "yes."
Jesus warned his followers that saying an honest "yes" was a major sign of one's integrity. "So let your 'yes' mean 'yes' and your 'no' mean 'no.' Anything more or less is sinful" (Matt. 5:37) said Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount. Being open and then embracing a positive outlook on life will surely have incredible results in our lives... so much so that Jesus wanted to make sure we were all aware of the power of that word.
We are called to say "yes" to the opportunities God puts before us: the chance to help the poor and suffering, the ability to grow friendships and relationships with all those we meet, the risk of making fools of ourselves for the sake of something greater, the fun and exciting ways that God has made this world colorful for His people, and a life of living the gospel always. It's these "yes" moments that will make us all forever blessed.