Healthy Soul/Living Out Your Faith/My Life Why “Maybe” Could be Hurting Your Relationship with God by Joel Stepanek Maybe. It is my favorite word when it comes to invitations: It doesn’t matter if you are asking me to that concert with you on Saturday or if I can help you move out of your apartment next week – I’m probably going to reply with a “yeah, I mean, maybe – we will see.” Because I just don’t know. Maybe I am feeling especially introverted today and I would rather make a blanket fort in my kitchen and watch Stranger Things all day without speaking to anyone. Maybe it is a nice day to move out but maybe I wake up and it is blistering hot and terrible. Phoenix can get that way. And maybe I won’t be feeling well. Maybe gets me half in and half out. It is perfect. Because my mood changes and my feelings change and I don’t want to exclude myself from the concert or being a good friend but I also don’t want to commit. Wait – there it is. I don’t want to commit. The Warm Blanket of Maybe Commitment is scary. When we choose one thing it means not choosing something else (sometimes it means choosing lots of other things). For a long time I was terrified of marriage. I used to have nightmares about getting married – like, wake up in a cold sweat kind of nightmares. They started my sophomore year of college. I was so terrified of choosing to marry someone and making the wrong decision because I was hurt in relationships before. So, I just avoided them. And don’t think it is just about big decisions, either. One of my favorite hobbies is staring at menus and debating the merits of what I should order because it is “inappropriate” to order multiple entrees, apparently. Because if I choose one thing I can’t have anything else, and what if something is better? From big commitments to small commitments, I just want to keep my options open. Because I could change my mind. I could feel differently tomorrow. A better option might come along. Or I might regret my decision. Do you ever do this? Do you ever wrap yourself up in “maybe” like a comfortable blanket on a cold winter afternoon? Maybe seems like it gives you all the freedom in the world. You can go to that party… or not. You can join that study group… or not. You can go on that date… or not. It seems stress and anxiety free – except it isn’t. It is a lot more like puke. Grocery Store Puke Fest I was in fifth grade when I threw up in front of the cash registers in our local grocery store. It was a Sunday morning and the store was packed. As my cinnamon Eggo-waffle vomit splattered across the floor in front of aisle five the sound of conversations and scanning stopped and all eyes turned to me. I stood in front of a giant mess and stared at the horrified shoppers and said the single wittiest thing I’ve ever spoken: “We need a cleanup on aisle five.” One cashier laughed out loud while several other people decided not to purchase their waffles. I hate puking in public. I hate puking, in general. It is an awful, foul experience. I guess that is why Jesus uses it to describe a certain kind of person: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Spew. Vomit. Puke. Jesus isn’t messing around when it comes to “maybe.” In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we need to let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no. There isn’t an in between. Because maybe isn’t a warm blanket – it is a wet concrete that quickly dries over our feet and gets us stuck. Maybe Culture But our culture loves maybe. We like the waffling (get it?) back and forth between one thing and another, never really making up our mind. Commitment is scary because it closes down all other avenues. If I choose one path it means I may not be able to pick another. A priest friend of mine used to say, “When you promise yourself to someone in marriage, you are promising not to marry every other person in the entire world.” You get to pick one, and you give up millions of other options. Maybe one is better? Maybe this is why so many people wait so long to get married and are so terrified of it. Maybe this is why there is such a high divorce rate. Maybe. But the maybe culture kills our spirituality and faith because Christ asks us for commitment. He says bold things like “take up your cross and follow me.” That is decisive language; that is the language of commitment. When Jesus asks you to come and follow Him, there is no “maybe.” There is “yes” and there is “no.” And this is the amazing thing about Jesus – He is constantly inviting us. Maybe our answer is “no,” right now. Fine, but don’t think Jesus won’t ask again. Jesus is relentlessly after you. He knocks daily asking you to come and follow. Jesus can work with “no.” But maybe? Well, maybe does something to our hearts. Maybe makes us feel good. It makes us feel like we are doing something when we aren’t doing anything. It makes us feel like yes when our heart is really no. It keeps our options open but our options actually are slowly closing. Choosing not to decide or remain the middle doesn’t bring us anywhere – it won’t help us grow in relationships with others or with God. It is sinister because it allows us to put off doing something about our faith. We can feel good about not saying, “no,” to God, but we aren’t really saying, “yes” either. Maybe doesn’t transform the world. Maybe keeps us from the adventure of discipleship. Maybe leaves us behind. You weren’t made for “maybe.” God wants all of you – Jesus asks us to jump in with both feet. Yes, the world around us fears commitment and loves “maybe.” But in a world where being in the middle is the norm, the people that commit to Jesus pave the way to extraordinary. Let go of “maybe” today. Jesus is waiting for you – ask Him if you can trust Him if you commit your life to following Him. Ask Him if he has great adventure planned. Ask Him if following Him fully will lead to an extraordinary, joy-filled life. His answer won’t be “no”. And it definitely isn’t “maybe”.