The Power of Yes
by Camerin Courtney
I had to check and double-check the dates when this anniversary dawned on me. Five years seemed too long. But it was indeed five years ago this month when I was asked to write a column for ChristianityToday.com's singles community, now ChristianSinglesToday.com.
And I said yes.
I admit that yes didn't come without a bit of contemplation. Did I want to be a singles columnist? Did I really want to become the poster-child of this demographic? How long would this gig last? How much vulnerability would it require? Wouldn't I eventually run out of things to say about the single life?
I look back at those questions now and chuckle. I have indeed become an "expert" at singleness, at least to those who don't see the messiness of my daily life as a singleton. I probably would have bolted from a five-year-plus commitment to this task had I known at the get-go. I've voluntarily written about everything from the thrill of first dates to the dark days of depression. And even with 109 columns under my belt, I still occasionally find myself saying, "I should write a column about that," when faced with a funny, frustrating, or futile singlehood reality.
But I also chuckle because I had no idea of the enormous blessing awaiting me on the other side of my silly questions and my eventual yes. I had no idea that along with the sacrifice of time and of opening up the minute and sometimes sensitive details of my life to anyone willing to read, I also would reap all kinds of perks.
My favorite benefit has been you, my beloved readers. Over the past five years I've received literally thousands of e-mails from you, sharing your thoughts, experiences, opinions, reprimands, advice, challenges, affirmations, and well-wishes. When I went out on a limb and shared about the dating drought my single friends and I found ourselves in, you responded with a resounding "Me too!" When I wrote about the weirdness of solo bed shopping and my question of whether or not to "super-size" my twin in the process, you wrote to encourage me to upgrade. When I shared about the joy of becoming an aunt, you wrote to tell me it only gets sweeter as nieces and nephews age. It's truly a privilege to share this single journey with you wonderfully kooky folks.
My five-year tenure also has led to speaking engagements, dozens of radio interviews (including one with Focus on the Family), inclusion in a New York Times cover story, one book (and one on the way-stay tuned for details!), many invitations for dates from male readers across the country, and even a small controversy with the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the founder of Family Life Radio. Last month I spent a Saturday in Chicago with a sweet friend I met solely through my column.
I don't share any of the above accolades to toot my own horn. On the contrary, I relay these perks as yet another example of our God doing "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20). When I was asked to write this column, I looked past my reservations and saw an opportunity to write and to hopefully encourage others. It was a simple open door, and I finally thought, Why not? God took this little mustard seed of willingness and birthed a community, a ministry, something way beyond my abilities or dreams.
Similarly, during the five years I've been electronically ranting and raving about the single life, I've also watched my single friends say their own yeses-to teaching English in Mongolia, to starting a business, to buying a condo, to earning a doctorate, to doing short-term missions work in Haiti, to accepting church leadership positions, to a cross-country move, to launching a single women's ministry, to a marriage proposal, to traveling the world, to adopting a child.
Collectively, they've modeled the awesome power of singles who are willing to take risks, follow God's lead, refuse life-on-hold living. They've learned, as I have, that we singles are a force to be reckoned with when we push past our fears and reservations and put the gifts and abilities God's wired into each of us back into his hands.
So as I look back and marvel at five years of singles "expertise" and God's surprise blessings, I challenge you to look at the opportunities and open doors around you. What might God want to do with your life if you'd just take the leap of faith? What ministry is just waiting for you to birth it, what group of people for you to bless them, what fear or rational reasoning for you to laugh at and push past in God's power?
As the year draws to a close, won't you pray with me for eyes to see the open door, challenge, or dream God's nudging us toward? What better way to express our gratitude to God in the season of Thanksgiving? What better way to honor the Son who said yes to us by coming to earth and making the ultimate sacrifice for us while we were still wretched messes?
Then, let's make 2005 the year of walking through that open door, taking that leap, and saying that faithful, fearless yes. Then in 2010, we can all look back and marvel at and celebrate the anniversary of the time you decided to let God rock your-and our-world.