Through many years of working with moms, I now recognize two words that are dismally sad, leading down a forlorn path. As soon as they are spoken or written, I can predict the outcome.
A mom comes to me with her problems, pain, struggles, or discouragement looking for answers, solutions, and help. Often I am a stranger to her, but her desperation drives her to reach out to someone she thinks might offer hope. I listen. I ask questions. I communicate. I give suggestions. Then, sadly in response, she says, “Yes, but.”
“Yes, but” is the beginning of all the reasons why this mom can’t or won’t try the ideas I offer. It isn’t that I have all her answers, or any of them for that matter, but without trying, she doesn’t know if they might work. Even if she has tried it in the past, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be helpful now.
I Can or I Can’t?
There are two mindsets — “I can” and “I can’t” — that I encounter with moms. “I can” digs in and goes at it. She sets excuses aside. She doesn’t go to past failures. She makes plans and tackles it. I love watching her enthusiasm and her successes.
“I can’t” makes excuses and doesn’t try. She has many reasons why it won’t work and isn’t worth attempting. At the same time, she is yearning for change and for solutions. Where will that change come from if she doesn’t do something different? Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.”
I love working with “I can” moms, and my heart breaks when I hear “Yes, but.” It isn’t that it is easy for the “I can” mom, but she attacks her issue with gusto. She tries. She prays. She communicates if things don’t move forward. She tries again. She experiences change. Best of all she has the joy of victory, even when it is just a small problem, and especially when it is a big one.
The “I can’t” mom, stuck in the excuses mindset of “Yes, but,” continues in the quagmire of her problems — weary, worn out, and discouraged. Even though I try, I usually can’t pull her out of that kind of thinking. Each time I give an idea, there is another excuse, another “I can’t,” another “yes, but.” It appears to be a never-ending cycle.
I want to be an “I can” mom. After all, I have the truth of “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Plus, I know Scripture tells me, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Yet, even though I have purposed to be the “I can mom,” I sometimes think or say, “Yes, but.” I pray the Lord will quickly convict me of that attitude, and help me set aside my pride, my excuses, my self pity, and my defensiveness, and enable me to receive advice, counsel, and suggestions with determination, initiative, fortitude, and responsiveness.
Who Are You?
If you evaluated yourself, who are you? I can, or I can’t? Now, I challenge you to listen to yourself. If you ask your husband for his advice on something, do you take it or explain why you don’t think it will work? If you go to a friend for counsel, and she gives you a suggestion, do you try it? When you read an article that relates to a problem of yours, do you attempt to do what it gives as steps to solutions or discount it as impossible for you?
We each get to decide whether we will be “I can” or “I can’t.” It starts with recognizing if our propensity is to be “I can’t.” If it is, then ask God to help you say and think, “I can.” Don’t let any excuses tumble from your mouth. Then follow through. Seek God’s strength, grace, and mercy as you do it. I wonder what the outcome of that decision might be over the next few months or year. I would love to know.
Trusting in Jesus,