Find a Way to Say Yes

A niece of mine works in upper management at a “members only” big box warehouse chain store. They are particularly known for their customer service and generous return policy. She says they are often told that when dealing with any customer’s problem or a return, they should “find a way to say yes” even when they don’t at first see a solution.

I’m sure other businesses have “yes” as a policy, but it seems like some are the exact opposite: they try to find reasons to say no.

She shared a story of how one woman—on the phone from another city—was desperately trying to buy tires for her son at the store where my niece works. The woman was a member of the store, but didn’t have a credit card. The son didn’t have any cash on him, nor a membership card. My niece pondered how she could help the woman and her son. The mantra from their customer service training kept echoing in her head: find a way to say yes. Eventually she told the woman to mail her a check for the tires. The woman was dumbfounded but happy. “You mean you trust me to send the check?” she asked.

“Well, yes,” said my niece. “Plus we have your membership number and information.” A great way to say yes!

I’m sure other businesses have “yes” as a policy, but it seems like some are the exact opposite: they try to find reasons to say no.

What a wonderful motto for life too: find a way to say yes. Of course there are times when as a parent you must say no, and indeed, children need firm boundaries—and parents who are willing to enforce them. In parenting, sometimes it seems all we do is put up stop signs and say “No, no” all day. Toddlers who say no a lot may hear it often, even when they mean yes. In dating relationships, teens and young adults need to firmly say no regarding the intimacy lines they desire to uphold until marriage. (Yes, I’m old-fashioned.) Unfortunately, even tragically, too many young men seem to take a weak no as a yes.

In marriage as well, there are times to say no to each other or to find ways to understand where the other is coming from. “No, I can’t run Lisa to ball practice today; I need you to take a turn sometimes too.” So “no” can be a good launching pad to helpful discussions, (about sharing chauffeuring duties, for instance) when used correctly.

But so can yes!

I remember very well when my future husband and I pondered where our relationship was going. Privately, I looked back on all the relationships I’d had with guys that turned out to be not the right person or time. I had become relationship-wary. Would I ever find a life partner to whom I could respond “Yes!”?

Don’t most of us enter marriage with a few questions and doubts as to whether we have what it takes for an enduring and growing marriage? I knew I could walk away from the relationship as I had so many others, but with Stuart I finally felt at home. I wanted to stop being on a forever search for a perfect person. I wanted to say yes to life with all its risks and unknown outcomes. And I’m very glad I did. After almost 40 years, I do think we have the love it takes to go the distance, and cannot imagine life without our three daughters and currently two grandsons (with one more on the way, any day! Have I mentioned that here yet?).

Speaking of having children, my husband and I pondered that question too for a couple of years: were we settled well enough to begin a family? Did we have what it took to be parents? Could we afford it? Would we squabble about who did what? How would we ever pay for college? Like so many others, we plunged ahead anyway, even without having everything figured out.

How might this apply to you in this new year? Where are you wrestling with a decision where you’re afraid to move ahead? As I said, caution can be very good: in marriage, in jobs, in starting a family, in using wisdom to raise children, including sometimes telling them no. But where can we say yes? Perhaps to God, or to starting healthier habits, or to launching out in faith on a new venture? Where and how is God nudging you to yes?

I can’t answer that for you, but I do hope and pray that all of us may have our ears, minds, and eyes open to the yeses that God has for us this year.


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