Last time I wrote about a daunting and discombobulating series of “no’s” I’d been experiencing. I know a lot of us have encountered “no’s” during this strange time of pandemic, fear, and uncertainty. It’s a tough thing–living in “no-no land.” If we focus exclusively on the “no’s,” we soon find that is all we can see.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be defined or judged by my “no’s.” Yes, “no’s” have a role to play in life, but they will never be the last word in my life. The key to neutralizing the “no’s” is to reframe them for some big, whopping “yeses.”
For example, when our bucket list trip to the isle of Iona was cancelled this summer, we decided we’d go to the shore once a month. At least we could enjoy walking that thin space at water’s edge and benefit from some negative ions. And we did. And it was wonderful. And reframing our travel plans into a “yes” yielded even more “yeses.”
One of the “yeses” the first beach trip yielded was a GPS route that took us a particular way (not to be repeated on the remaining trips). I just happened to look off to my right at just the right moment to see a sign for M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic. I had no clue that M.D. Anderson had partnership campuses, and one of them was right there in Camden, New Jersey, with Cooper Health. We feel like this was a big divine “yes” that has already yielded even more “yeses.” See that’s the thing: the “no’s” will gladly multiply to bring you down, so wouldn’t you rather reframe for “yes” and multiply goodness and love?
Another example is cancer. There are “no’s” aplenty when it comes to life with metastatic breast cancer. Those “no’s” will gladly define you if you let them. We usually pit the patient against the cancer with words like “battle” and “war.” For some folks those are the right words and approach. I used those words the first time around in 2004. Now, however, I look more at cancer as teacher and companion rather than adversary or evil. After all, cancer is part of me, not some random exterior foe that picked me out of the crowd for a beating.
Some of my reframed “yeses” of cancer are: 1) I live more in the present moment, and my understanding of time is shifting; 2) I am finally making the main things the main things and shedding all that is extraneous to my life’s purpose; and 3) I am at long last finding and using the voice of my true self. These three “yeses” have neutralized a whole lot of “no’s.” And the “yeses” just keep multiplying. Sometimes a “yes” can be as simple and delightful as taking five minutes to observe and appreciate our cat’s catishness.
Maybe you could benefit from reframing some of your “no’s” into “yeses.” Pick a “no” and look for a gift around it. The gifts may be hard to find at first because we humans are conditioned to find the “no’s.” Keep at it, and one will appear. It might be simple: We had two days of rain that prevented me from working in the garden. A reframe would be something like this: I couldn’t work in the garden, but God provided much needed rain for both plants and animals.
Begin with small reframes and regular practice. It might even become a part of your spiritual disciplines if so inclined. Note: Bigger, more painful “no’s” often require more than reframing. Reframing can help, but do consider seeking therapy and/or spiritual accompaniment. Taking care of you matters. After all, it’s pretty tough to love God and neighbor if you’re not real keen on yourself. Thank you for sending a “yes” my way by stopping in!