One Overwhelming and Fulfilling “Yes”

The highlight of David Brooks’ book The Road to Character was his portrayal of St. Augustine’s internal journey. Brooks skillfully connects this ancient saint’s experience to our own. In one place, he speaks to an issue common to many college students and young adults:

Augustine’s feeling of fragmentation has its modern corollary in the way many contemporary young people are plagued by a frantic fear of missing out. The world has provided them with a superabundance of neat things to do. Naturally, they hunger to seize every opportunity and taste every experience. They want to grab all the goodies in front of them. They want to say yes to every product in the grocery store. They are terrified of missing out on anything that looks exciting. But by not renouncing any of them they spread themselves thin. What’s worse, they turn themselves into goodie seekers, greedy for every experience and exclusively focused on self. If you live in this way, you turn into a shrewd tactician, making a series of cautious semicommitments without really surrendering to some larger purpose. You lose the ability to say a hundred noes for the sake of one overwhelming and fulfilling yes.

This is a good, descriptive, and accurate summary. “Semicommitments” or “waiting for a better offer” are a constant undercurrent in any dealings with young adults.

Christians should be at the forefront of calling people to surrender themselves to THE larger purpose of following Christ. This will necessarily entail “a hundred noes for the sake of one overwhelming and fulfilling yes.”

Let’s teach our people (and ourselves) to say no, over and over again. They’ve never learned to say no, and it’s killing them. Let’s do this for the sake of “one overwhelming and fulfilling yes” to Jesus and his Kingdom. That’s the only thing we really need to fear missing out on!

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