A Year of Saying Yes – What I’ve Learned

Anne Rulo A Year of Saying Yes - What I've Learned

You guys, we made it! It’s been one solid year since I set out on this journey to write, speak and stay home with my children. One year of saying no to convention. One year of finally saying, “Yes!”

Before I share what this year has taught me I will offer this caveat. I know everyone can’t quit their job to pursue their dreams. In fact, many of the yeses we are called to don’t require huge life change. They require heart change. I could have said yes for years while I worked, but moving forward just happened to collide with an opportunity to stay home with my children. Don’t let how my yes happened direct yours in any way other than encouragement. Everyone’s journey into the unknown looks different. This is what I have learned in mine (so far).

What We Need to Say Yes

To say yes, we need a healthy relationship with vulnerability. We rarely feel completely “ready” to step into something new. In fact, I suspect God intends it this way. If He calls us to something He will equip us along the way. However, there is not a single shred of Biblical evidence that He ever equipped anyone fully at the beginning. (You know, except Jesus.) He very often sends His people out feeling vulnerable so He can be their strength.

You will feel scared. Learn to appreciate the sensation.

You will have “vulnerability hangovers“. Learn to move through them.

(PS – If you’ve never watched Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability stop and watch it here. It’s incredible.)

To say yes, we need to be willing to suck for a bit. You will be the worst at the beginning…because you are beginning! When I look back at some of the writing I did, the steps I took, the silly questions I asked I am more than a little embarrassed. I had one speaking engagement so awful it felt like an out of body experience. Sometimes I want to erase my old work and only show the new stuff where I feel more competent. But that is a cheat. To me and to you. I never want to forget where I started or stop someone else from starting because they are looking at a false advertisement of how messy the beginning can be.

Your first work will be your worst work. Don’t let that stop you.

To say yes, we may need to dream without goals. This goes against a whole bunch of super fancy (and successful) people who say you need to have a destination in mind so you have something to aim for. However, I just haven’t found that to be true. In my case, God raised a desire to write and to speak and to stay home with my children. That’s it. Anytime I started thinking about “outcome measurements” (read: income, numbers of engagements, followers, etc.) I was adding asterisks based on what the world identifies as a success. The only goals I set were time spent toward fulfilling the call, not the outcome. Historically, God commonly asked His people to move forward without knowing what was coming. I don’t know why He would operate differently now.

Starting something without needing to control how it ends is very freeing.

Leave the results to Him.

To say yes, we must be open to unexpected mentors. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV) Others have, at least to some degree, done what He is calling you to do. We are not that unique and the pressure to believe we are can stop even the bravest soul in her tracks. I have spent the last year reading books by people who write for a living. You know who proved to be particularly educational? Stephen King. Yes, the man famous for horror and evil and all-things-twisted-thinking has blessed this Christian devotional writer. I learned technical gems about the craft from someone who could not write further away from my genre. I hold genuine affection for this man I’ve never met. He is a soul brother of writing. You never know, your next mentor might be your direct opposite. God loves a paradox.

Don’t limit who may prove to be a teacher.

Be willing to learn in unexpected places.

To say yes, we must be prepared for the rise of opinions and personal insecurities. As a woman, I have answered questions about why I would walk away from my career. On the flip side, when I was working I answered questions about why I would allow a career to keep me from staying home with my children. I am certain men encounter questions when they “go for a goal” but it is a slightly different road than the ladies travel. My sister, no matter what you say yes to, someone is going to have an opinion about it. People will think you are foolish. I have to fight off these voices regularly, both around me and in me. I’ve never done anything this “unknown” or unconventional in my life. It can be very uncomfortable. The world does not create a friendly space for dreamers unless the dreamer is “successful” by the world’s standards. Make sure you have people in your life who help you drown out the noise.

Figure out who your champions are and keep them close.

Clap their hands over your ears, and your heart, as needed.

Lastly, and most importantly, to say yes we just need to finally say yes. I don’t know what your yes is. I don’t know what He is calling you to, but I know this…stepping into a journey of creativity and unknown with God has grown and changed me in ways no other process possibly could. It has made me face what I put my security in. It has shown me what my idols are. It has made me face biases about income and success that I didn’t even know I had. It has increased my tolerance for risk and reduced a need for control.  It has made me brave. More importantly, it has given me a story to live alongside others so that when their invitation to “yes” comes they may draw a cup from my well.

Say yes because God tells you to.

Say yes because it will help someone else say yes too.

Dear readers, it has been a year. Some of you have been with me only a short time and some, blessed be, tolerated me dinging around for many years before I finally said yes. Thank you for everything you have been to me on this journey. I’m excited to continue forward together.

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