It comes every year. The calendar page flips and suddenly we find another New Year is thrust upon us.
The month is named after Janus, the Greek god of beginnings and transitions. He has two faces — one looking to the future and the other at the past.
We ceremoniously mark the New Year with a chance to start over. It’s the traditional time of resolutions, of self-reflection. This one day of honesty is when we collectively and individually identify our weaknesses and resolve to fix them.
New Year’s Day is the perfect opportunity to makes vows to spend more time with the kids, take a college class, or lose weight. We resolve to quit smoking, stop angry driving and pray more.
A modern twist on the traditional New Year’s Day resolution is to adopt a single word or phrase for the year. I’ve been doing this—identifying a label for the year, a concept that would define my life and give me focus.
Some people pick words like “forgiveness,” “service” or “freedom.” Others pick words like “consistent,” “self-discipline,” or “love.”
The word I chose three years ago wasn’t particularly profound. It wasn’t all that deep. It wasn’t spiritual.
It was a simple word.
I’ve been adopting a word for the year, identifying a concept that would define my life and give me focus. My word for this year, and the rest of my life is “yes.”
On that first day 2015, I resolved to say “yes” to every opportunity God put in front of me. I would quit saying “no,” leaning on the crutch of safety. Instead, I would leap into the unknown and give God a chance to work His wonders.
This vow to “say yes” would change my life.
Since I made this commitment, it hasn’t always been easy, but the rewards have been amazing. Living a Life of Yes isn’t just a decision or a single pithy word. It’s a lifestyle.
But to get there required one step at a time, every single one of them by faith. I often feel like a man walking into the desert without a plan, hoping to stumble onto an oasis of water, a road, or another pilgrim.
Many of my friends, who’ve known me for years, are doing double takes. I was Mr. Conservative. I advised my friends to “look before leaping” and to be wary of rash decisions. I always considered the costs and labored over my options. I figured I could drown difficult choices by holding them under the water of indecision.
My approach to life would be to sit down with a long legal pad and draw a line down the middle. At the top would be the “big decision” of the moment, and I’d list the benefits on the left and the costs on the right. I reasoned I could push the tough decisions to the top by the process of elimination.
But I’ve changed. I’m learning in order to experience God’s riches, His deep blessing for this life, that I must leap – and trust. Faith isn’t just leaning back and waiting for life to happen on its own. Faith is stepping out, walking and experiencing the unknown. It’s letting go.
But along the way, I found God in the mystery. I found God in the uncertainty. I found God in surrender—surrender to “Yes.”
The World Opens Up
As I have opened my eyes to what’s around me, the world began to open to me.
After I made that decision, I’ve been living a life of absolute surprise. I’ve met people and gone places I would have never imagined going.
I’ve had tea with Christian families in the Middle East whose lives have been upended by ISIS. I’ve met with Muslims in America, looking for commonality and understanding what drives hate.
I’ve marched with persecuted Ethiopians. I’ve sat with African Americans who have experienced a new sense of oppression here. I’ve spent time with a woman whose husband was martyred for his faith. I’ve gone into deep discussions with atheists and Wiccans and fundamentalists.
I’ve broken bread with Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and Libertarians. I’ve started conversations with meth addicts, homeless women, and those from the forgotten. I’ve gone to discussions sponsored by terrorism experts, NASA scientists and gold panners, just for fun.
I’ve turned into a curious man, one that asks questions simply to gain access to new territories of people, knowledge, and experience.
I embrace my innocence, no longer running from surprises.
The 14-Day Living a Life of Yes Challenge
I’m going to ask you to do something far more life-changing than dumping a bucket of ice water on your head. I’m asking you to go above and beyond a discipline like swearing off chocolate for lent or carbs for the summer.
I want you to say yes for 14 days. That’s it. Every uncomfortable situation, you dive in. Every new situation, you open the door. Every opportunity, you simply lay aside your excuses and “say yes.”
An option is that you might want to do with others. Find a friend or two and challenge each other. Compare your fears and frustrations. Celebrate your successes.
Maybe you won’t change the world, but you’ll start to change your life.
What’s your next courageous step? It might seem small, but it will be huge in your heart.
If you start Living a Life of Yes, you’ll meet new people and realize what an amazing, diverse world this is. You’ll expand your mind, exercising the risk the muscle that only gets stronger and wiser. You’ll defy the years, as the experiences will keep you young. You’ll be fresh, full of new perspective and insight.
If you start Living a Life of Yes, you’ll never be the same.
But it must start somewhere. It must start sometime.
So why not today?
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