Reviews

Say Yes to Freedom

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This quote sums up Year of Yes by Shona Rhimes well. What I like about this quote and what I don’t like about it sums up my feelings toward this book. Everyone can all agree that we don’t want crappy things to happen to us. There is a sense in which one can demand more than just accepting crap. My situation may not change, my fibromyalgia isn’t going away any time soon, but the way I deal with it can. My attitude toward the crappy things can change just how crappy they are. I do not believe I am in control of what happens in my life as much as Shonda Rhimes does. I know that my God is in control of all lives and that my life will be less crappy if I submit to this. There is freedom in letting go.

At the beginning of the book, Rhimes talks about how, when she has severe bouts of anxiety, she can’t remember what happened during the time she was extremely anxious. I identify with Rhimes in that I have had pockets of time lost because of just how anxious I was. My husband and I joke that I don’t remember our first 6 months of dating because I would ask him the same questions and not remember other interactions that we had. She decided that she didn’t want to live this way anymore. Granted, for me with fibromyalgia, I will still forget sometimes, but I can at least face my fears, fight my anxiety. Anxiety steals life and Rhimes makes the daring decision to steal her life back. Her story is inspiring and hilarious.

 

Noteworthy Quotes

 

What an amazing commitment! Her humor, shown by the “scared to death” comment, was a great asset in her fight against her anxiety to reach a fuller life. Rhimes was inspiring as she faced her fears. My writing a blog itself was inspired by her tenacity. It was a difficult “yes” for me because there is always a fear of rejection, a fear of not being good enough. Rhimes addresses those fears in her year of yes. Rhimes had those fears. One of the most successful screenwriters still had the same fears as I do? That is a comforting thought.

 

This comment was highly amusing to me as someone who covers up her pain every day. I have a feeling that anyone with fibromyalgia would also find this funny because that is something that people with fibromyalgia do every single day. This could actually be a superpower. There are days when I can’t show what is going on inside because I have to be professional, or I just don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes this is completely unrelated to fibromyalgia (i.e., a family member is suffering, a student is having difficulty). Some of my students are still working on the emotionally intelligent skill of being able to choose when to let your emotions show.

 

What a freeing thought! I always feel free when I face something I fear, conquer it through His grace! When I look fear in the face, it is almost never as intimidating as I think it is. Fear almost never meets my expectations, I find I usually have more strength than I thought possible.  My God gives me freedom from my own prison of fears. I dance in the joy of conquered fears.

 

I always commend my students when they receive good grades by saying, “Great job! You worked so hard!” It is persistence that separates a man who dreams from a man who makes his dreams into reality. Hard work is becoming rarer than it used to be. One positive side to this is that you can distinguish yourself easily in the workplace by simply working hard. There is great joy to be had in putting in a hard day’s work. This blog represents hours and hours of hard work, and I started this blog fully understanding that it would take time and hard work to build it into what I wanted it to be.

 

This quote is from the chapter Rhimes labeled as “Yes to Thank You”. This chapter addresses how people don’t seem to know how to take compliments. I certainly have difficulty with this. Rhimes had a great point though; you validate someone when you accept their compliment without any qualifiers like, “I was just lucky.” She realized that it was downplaying her own hard work and others’ recognition of it when she said that she was “just lucky”.

My husband commented on how I acted differently after applying this concept. We went shopping to buy some more fibro-friendly clothes for my wardrobe. He said that I looked good in some of the shirts I tried on. I agreed with him. He was surprised and delighted by my response. After explaining the chapter that I had just read in Year of Yes, he agreed with Rhimes that it gave him value to agree with his compliment, and he said that he liked the change in my attitude brought about by these ideas.

Then Again, Maybe Not

I had some disagreement with Rhimes when she talked about the role of women. She attested that society praises women “for displaying traits that basically render them invisible”. Rhimes goes on to enumerate these traits: “sacrificed everything”, “never thought about herself”, “gave up everything”, “worked tirelessly to make sure we had what we needed”, “stood in the shadows”, “wind beneath our wings”, and “little things she does…unnoticed”. While there are some women who take on the role of martyr as if they were a Hollywood star and play it to perfection, making everyone around them feel guilty if they do anything for them, a detrimental and sick twist on the humility God calls all of us to practice. I actually consider these traits Rhimes rails against as traits to be commended rather than met with the vehement hate Rhimes expresses.

A biblical woman is certainly not a pushover, but she also doesn’t feel the need to make others see her worth. Her worth is in her identity in Christ. This security in her identity creates in her heart a desire to minister. Proverbs 31 speaks of how a godly woman works hard. She makes her own business decisions with shrewdness. This woman is the definition of a truly strong woman. The Proverbs 31 woman gives of her resources generously. She plans for her household by saving resources wisely. The biblical woman is creative! She is dignified, not devalued. She uses her words wisely and speaks kindly. This woman works hard. What she does merits praise. This godly woman should be praised.

I argue that each one of these traits that render women “invisible” are actually worthwhile and admirable traits that the Christian woman strives for, and I believe that Ann Voskamp would agree with me.

Sacrifice, Selflessness, Thoughtfulness, Kindness

If you are a Christian, you know that our hero sacrificed himself to save us. Sacrifice, then, is something that we want to do. It can be very hard to sacrifice oneself and feel death, the death of our selfishness. When saying yes to the things that make us afraid, we need to say yes to sacrificing ourselves daily, say yes to becoming a selfless person. Dare to say yes to giving up your spoons, especially when you don’t know how many you will have. There is a freedom in letting go of what you think of as yours: time, money, and energy.

“A life of giving is ultimately the most life-giving.” – Ann Voskamp

A person who is truly selfless is content to not be noticed for their good actions, to stand “in the shadows”. No, I do not think that this means that Christian women are mousy, have no backbone, or have their only value in what they do for their family. I look to women in my church when I want to see examples of truly living “yes”. They are fearless in saying yes to dying to themselves even though they know it will hurt. These women say yes to being vulnerable, yes to speaking truth, and yes to real love.

Okay, Now, Back to the Love

Anxiety can lead to accidentally being completely oblivious to others. It cuts us off from sharing in the joys of living life with others. Fear is the enemy of true communion, true intimacy (Ann Voskamp). It is when I am able to let go of my fears that I have truly experienced life. God opens my death grip on fear and gives me the gift a life enjoyed, a life free from prison.

 

Although Rhimes is not writing from a Christian perspective, this concept is in line with biblical teaching. This is a phrase that I hope to use in those moments when I am unhappy with how far I have to go to be truly sanctified, to be perfect like my Heavenly Father is perfect. This phrase admits that I am not perfect, that I am okay with the fact that God still has work to do on me. This phrase claims freedom from perfectionism.

“Stop holding on to a standard of perfection instead of being held by the arms of grace… How long had I felt perfectionism like a soundless strangle? Perfectionism is slow death by self. Perfectionism will kill your sense of safety, your self, your soul.” – Ann Voskamp

 

This is also a biblical truth. Hate is poisonous. I know because I have taken the drink. At first, it warms, it feels as if it gives power. Then I feel that the warmth is actually eating me from the inside. It doesn’t make me stronger, it slowly drains me of strength. Love is a powerful anti-toxin. It gives me the power to let go. Love gives me more room in my heart for others than I thought I had. The more I pour it out, the more I am filled.

 

This coincides with what God has been teaching me lately, to give grace to myself. I am the only person I will have to live with for the rest of my life. I had better start playing nice. Someone once challenged me to talk to myself like I talk to my friends. I would never berate my friends for not getting work done or punish them for not being perfect. Why shouldn’t I show myself the same grace?

 

Beside her, his hand on hers, his voice calm, his steps steady, my father helps her take each step forward. “One foot in front of the other,” he says. Every single time she whispers, “I’m not going to make it,” he whispers back, “One foot in front of the other.” – Shonda Rhimes

What a beautiful picture of support as her father walked her sister down the aisle. I could immediately relate this to how I walk with my Heavenly Father. There are so many days that I whisper, even scream, that I’m not going to make it, and yet His gentle voice whispers to me to just put one foot in front of the other. I am leaning on Him. He is my strength. All He asks me to do is put one foot in front of the other, to be present, to do the next thing.

 

My happy ending is not the same as your happy ending. – Shonda Rhimes

This quote is a culmination of Rhime’s explanation of why she does not want to get married. It is a very interesting explanation, and I encourage you to read it. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I am rather biased because I am already married. I do like though how she was speaking out against how we all have our own pre-conceived ideas of how things should be done or what things people should want. She says that, in reality, ideal life is not the same for each person. For example, I would like one day to make money for writing, but, for some people, that would sound like perpetual hell.

I immensely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I am thankful to the person who recommended it to me, and I hope it will help free you, as it did me, to live a full life, to face your fears, to do what you love.

 

© Copyright 2018 – Elizabeth Auwarter

Want the book? Click to order.

 

What have you been afraid to say yes to?

Have you read Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes? What were your thoughts?

 

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