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The difference between Yes and No is usually not as clear-cut as we imagine (or wish) it to be. In Quebec, we just had a provincial election which resulted in a change of government. To all appearances, the people changed from being sovereigntists to federalists. But that is not the whole picture. Quebecers did not radically shift their priorities in the last 18 months. Basically, the cost of being aligned with the Parti Quebecois became too high: the PQ's activities were seen as promoting instability and division instead of prosperity and tolerance.
At this time of year, we in the Christian church find ourselves retelling the stories of the last days of Jesus' life on earth. Part of this narrative is the fluctuating popularity Jesus experienced in the last week before his death. How could crowds cheer him on, hailing him as their God-ordained king as he entered the holy city of Jerusalem and several days later be calling for his execution? How did the enthusiastic Yes become a murderous No?
I think it is important to note two qualifications of the Yes regarding Jesus (and to some extent, the voting example). First, it is not unanimous. Though there were crowds that supported Jesus, not everyone was a fan of his, not everyone wanted him to establish himself as a king, and not everyone wanted him to bring the kingdom of God. Even among his followers, there were disputes and disagreements. Our situation is no different as followers of Jesus today. We struggle to find unanimity, both in the church universal and inside ourselves. We are conflicted people, inside and out.
Second, the Yes is conditional. People found it easy to go along with the miracles, the healings, the compassion he showed to the underdog, the food giveaways, and the fascinating stories. But when it came to identifying with someone who was suffering public humiliation and facing retaliation for his words and actions, the crowd's No votes began to pull ahead of the Yes votes. Though we may think we are 100% committed to following Jesus, we are no different from Peter who found it difficult to keep the No at bay under duress.
Brown defines faith this way: "Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty." I believe that our desire to land with surety on Yes or No can be a hindrance to living fully, to loving wholeheartedly, and to cultivating trust and faith in God and in each other. Living between Yes and No is not so much a matter of going with the best option I have available but being able to trust in something beyond my own knowledge, my own reason, my own ability. Can I let go of Yes and No and instead, find my anchor in faith? in hope? in love?
I am leaning toward Yes on that.
Quotes taken from Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection (Hazelden, 2010), 90-91.