It's later than I like to start my math for the day. I spread out my books, notebook, calculators (yes, I use two), and note cards. Picking up my pencil, I write the lesson number and begin to copy the first problem to work out. And at that very moment, she comes through the door.
She's carrying a large book and as she walks toward me, her dimples show even though she's not smiling. "Lindsey, will you read this to me??" As I glance up into her big blue eyes, thoughts pour through my mind. That book?? She couldn't have picked a shorter one? You never even liked that one as a kid. And girl, you have so.much.math to do. Just tell her no.
And I've told her no. Time and time again my voice has let those two letters free. No. No smoothies for breakfast. No book. No movie. No going outside. It got to the point where she and her twin sister would hardly come to me anymore for anything- and never to play with them. Let me tell you, that one hurt when I realized it was true. I was losing my little sisters.
They're in an odd stage right now and its one that is so easy to harp on. STOP it. Act like a 5 year old. Don't be silly. Open your eyes. (Seriously, what is it with half closing or completely closing your eyes when you're acting silly?) Don't act like a baby. Normal voices.
It was a few weeks before Christmas when I pulled out several of my favorite old Christmas books and asked them if they wanted to read with me. Of course, they did, so we read about the candy cane and an apple tree and many others. 30 minutes later, they exclaimed "Thank you for reading to us!" as they climbed the stairs to bed.
Since then, I've tried. I played Candy Land, read books, baked cookies and muffins, and made smoothies every Friday morning (Except this Friday, because our blender burnt out). I've seized a few moments that I wouldn't have before... and I've also missed out on many that could have been wonderful memories.
I've written about this many times before, how we should treasure our time with those around us because they can be gone so quickly and because we are growing up. I haven't perfected it though... I'm nowhere near close. It can be discouraging to look back and see the times I failed and how sparse the times I haven't look in comparison. Let me tell you, I'm still in the thick of this one. I don't really see any light. But I'm wondering how different life would look- theirs, but especially mine- if I switched out even half of those nos with yes.
Yes. I'll make time for you.
Yes. You are important to me.
It's not to say that no isn't okay. There are definite moments when a no is totally fine or even necessary. But yes, yes could work wonders on your relationship and your spirit. I've found that yes is freeing, life-giving. Yes allows you to step back from your own frazzled life and take a moment to seep it all in. Yes is a break, and more diligence and perspective when you come back to work.
Jesus said yes. I'm sure there were times when He wanted to go home or get away from the crowds or not answer one more question. But He did. He came to earth and served the people with love, giving more and more of Himself even when His human flesh grew weary. The story of His loving on and instructing the crowd of people who followed Him across the lake gets me every time. I know what it's like to want to be alone and withdraw from the crowds, yet He doesn't get annoyed or turn them away. I want to be like Him, to be able to surrender my plans without a complaint to serve others in love.
So I set down the notebook, smile at her, and open my arms. Yes. She climbs onto my lap and whispers, "I like this book." I whisper back, "I like YOU."
She's way more important than finishing three math lessons today anyway.