I have these dear friends in Rwanda who are married with three beautiful daughters, a large, close-knit extended family, and satisfying careers that fulfill them. They are so obviously happy together. It's adorable. When they first told me the story of how they fell in love, I was gobsmacked. Forget that they came together in the immediate aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide. Their story is charming and romantic on its own, in any place and any time.
For him, it was love at first sight.
For her, not so much.
See, she's practical, thoughtful, and fiercely independent. She's not exactly distrustful, but she certainly doesn't rush into relationships of any sort. (I suspect she was like that before genocide undid her world.) Undaunted, he pursued her patiently, gently, relentlessly. For over a year he tried to get her attention and woo her. For over a year she refused him. Another man would have given up and moved on.
Another man wasn't in love with her, though.
He had a powerful ally in his quest--one of her sisters. Together, they worked out a plan that they hoped would finally win his true love's heart. He would throw her a surprise birthday party. He got all the friends and family gathered at her favorite spot at the home of a beloved uncle. This was several hours from her home in Kigali, mind you, so it involved him making several round trips to get all the party guests there, all while keeping the party a secret. He arranged for all the food and drink and music. This man really went all out. After the party was done (and deemed a smashing success), he made several more round trips to get everyone back home.
Late that night, he received a text from her that simply said, "Yes."
He was over the moon.
She was happily anxious.
What she said next to me, was striking,
"So, now I had to figure out how to manage my yes."
What an incredible turn of a phrase, right? It really gets to the heart of commitment. Beyond the giddiness of being smitten, there is the practical, ongoing, active demonstrations of your loyalty, of your steadfastness, of your love. It's doing the endless loads of laundry, working overtime to pay the bills, biting your tongue when you really want to criticize, making the apology when you weren't able to bite it...
Managing your yes.
I love to say yes. I say it all the time. I often say it without giving it much--or any--thought at all. I dive headlong into relationships. I enthusiastically sign onto a project. I volunteer for pretty much anything anyone asks of me. Very frequently, I say yes to things that I cannot realistically manage, because truthfully I'm too busy or too ill-equipped for them.
Lately, I've been thinking about the people and things I have said yes to. It shames me to realize how often I have let someone down simply because I didn't consider my yes to them or their project a commitment I've made. So, I'm trying to be more mindful of the yeses I say.
I'm finding it to be a lovely lens to see the world through. It turns burdensome tasks into practical demonstrations of affection when I see them as part of managing a yes I said to someone. It makes it much easier to say no to something I think is a worthy project when I see it as a commitment that I cannot meet.
I'm learning to manage my yes.