You might remember a silly movie with Jim Carrey from ten years back called “Yes Man.” The essence of the plot is that Carrey’s character is drawn into a community of positive thinkers who are intent on saying yes and not saying no. In a huge auditorium they all chant together, “Yes, Yes, Yes” over and over. Of course this leads to all sorts of hilarious and ridiculous and sometimes inappropriate situations as only Jim Carrey can manage.
Yet beyond the slapstick entertainment, the movie carries a pretty powerful message of being open to possibility and not always choosing the self-protective option. I find that this kind of hopeful optimism brings out my better, truer self.
In my last several blog posts, I have alluded to the challenge of meeting disappointment with hope. For example, I mentioned trying to buy a house—that we didn’t get—and then being led to another house with even more potential. It’s an adorable little log house set up right above the Watauga River on a quiet road in Valle Crucis, right in the heart of the High Country. And it’s ours! The house needs lots of renovations, but Kellie and I are working on that this summer and are enjoying the process of transforming it.
There is also a retaining wall about four feet high that runs the whole length of the house—about 50 feet long—that holds back the mountain above us. We knew from the get-go that the wall was poorly made and was bowing out at one end, so we budgeted for repairs to shore it up and closed on the property on May 10. The contractor was scheduled to come begin repairs just two weeks later.
That never happened.
For several days the next week we had torrential rains that dropped 12 inches of water in 24 hours! In the mountains that kind of rainfall can be disastrous and even lead to tragic consequences, like the house that got obliterated just miles from here that weekend and took lives with it. On Friday night the mountain broke through and slammed our retaining wall up against the house. By the mercies of God, it did not penetrate the house, but it was a major mess as you can see from the photo below.
I just couldn’t believe it! That wall had held for 38 years…and its collapse occurred within a 2-week span between buying the house and getting the repair. The timing was impeccable. What’s more, our insurance policy didn’t cover it…and the new construction project to replace the wall instead of repair it will cost us five times as much! Ouch.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for the transcendent meaning behind things. The silver lining. The redemptive potential. And I’ll be honest—I haven’t found it yet in this situation. I’ve cycled through a host of emotions, but I keep coming back to a single word.
As in, Yes Lord. You know this wasn’t at all what we wanted or expected or can even really afford…but yes. Either things work together for good or not, and I keep coming back to the good option. I may find the good or I may not, but even if God didn’t cause the rain to collapse our wall (and I don’t think God did), I am attached to the idea that divine goodness seeps through every disappointment and failure. That there is no “bad” event that cannot become a conduit for good things.
What possible good could come from a collapsed retaining wall? I don’t know. Maybe humility, maybe trust, maybe resiliency—maybe all or none of those things. Here’s something I do know: that when I risk all my chips on the emergence of good despite broken circumstances, I feel loved and cared for. I feel safe, sometimes even invincible. Eventually. Life is a roller coaster, ups and downs. Sometimes I rage, sometimes I feel afraid, but eventually I wind up back at Yes. I think Yes is usually better than No.
What do you think?
Our journeys in life often feel like a labyrinth with unexpected twists and turns, which is why I love to walk the Prayer Labyrinth. You might have to search online to find one near you, but check this out to learn more about how using the body practice of praying through a labyrinth can illuminate your walk through life.
Dare to surrender your life into the care of God.