REFLECT: But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’: Matthew 5:37
APPLY: When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we ask (among other things), to not be led into temptation and to be delivered from evil (Matthew 6:13). The question is: do we really mean it?
That prayer may not be entirely heartfelt if – because of affection or fear – we shy away from vetting our friends, or we are not vigilant about their influence on our choices. When we do neither, we can become our own worst enemy, by giving our friends a free hand to lead us where we don’t want to go.
To wrest back some control, we may say no when we mean yes, and yes when we mean no – but this undermines the reliability of our word, when our word should be our bond. Insidiously, the option to go back on our word – to do what we intended from the start – begins to acquire a new appeal.
Christiane had survived a bruising divorce. Friends had chosen sides, depleting her network. Her wounds were too fresh to contemplate a new relationship, so even dating was out. A friend who had remained hers, though not particularly close before, had become close. They frequented each other’s homes, and frequently spoke on the phone.
Christiane was slowly becoming aware of a niggling sense of unease. Though she abhorred terror movies and porn, the one movie her friend had suggested they watch on a girls night out was a dark thriller with graphic sex scenes. Christiane endured the movie constantly, on the verge of walking out, but she did not share her discomfort with her friend. Another evening, complaining of being bored, the friend suggested a visit to a struggling neighborhood eatery – just to see, just for fun. As the eatery had slowly deteriorated, it had become a pickup joint. There had been police raids for prostitution. As a succession of men approached their table to strike up a conversation, Christiane felt grimy, asking herself what she was doing there. Finally, she spoke up and asked to leave.
Her friend teased for for being a prude. Her visits and phone calls died away. Christiane felt abandoned, but she did not like where the friendship had taken her. She resolved she would not pursue the friendship further.
PRAY: Heavenly Father, I don’t want to be my worst enemy – lead me to self-awareness through a new readiness to search my heart. Grant me the gumption to speak up when I should, to let my yes mean yes, and my no remain a no. May I test the impulses with which I contend, to resolve what lies beneath: the complaisancy, the apathy, the ambivalency. May my prayers be more than lip service, truly heartfelt, mercifully answered by you. In Jesus Name, Amen.