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  • Reverend James Squire

The Power of YET

I had a meeting with a hand surgeon in December of 2020 for a surgery that I knew was inevitable. Someone must have complained to her that she did not tell them everything they should have known about the surgery before the procedure. One bone would be removed, and two bones in the central column had to be fused. In addition, there was a second surgery to remove pressure on the median nerve compressed by the carpel bone. Like those TV adds that are advertising a new medication and all of its possible side effects, she left nothing out and repeated too often the description that “this is a big deal” so choose wisely.

My response was that I don’t have a choice. This was a perfect choiceless choice that defines the nature of some hard ethical choices as well. I will simply say that the surgery lived up to all of her descriptions of how it was a “big deal”, but I will spare you the details.

Recently I started physical therapy with a certified hand specialist who is terrific. Each session was filled with, “Can you do this or that?” I didn’t even realize how often I said in response, “Not YET.” I am not a very patient person when it comes to this kind of thing, but it dawned on me when I was with the hand specialist and other people that I was very aware of what I could and could not do. To make matters worse, it was my left hand and I am left-handed.

I recently have become aware of how often YET has entered into my conversational style without previously thinking much about it.

YET is a very powerful word! If you are in a situation such as my hand and me, you find out quickly YET’s importance. Everyone is living with something that is going to call YET from within them.

I went to my usual source of comfort, the Bible, and found something startling. YET is mentioned 365 times in the Good Book. I am in good company.

YET is a word that can take us from sadness to hope, from struggle to attainment of a goal, from something negative to something positive, and from pain to feeling more comfortable to name a few.

We often place our lifetime between one year and another with a hyphen in between. The dates of our birth and death are important, but what is more important is what happens on that hyphen. The word “yet” is a word that acts like the hyphen of our faith as it falls between struggle and hope in God.

YET functions as a bridge in our faith where we go from pain and suffering to hope in God and his promises to us that he will always be by our side. The following pieces of scripture are examples of this: “All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. YET their Redeemer is strong, the Lord Almighty is his name.” (Jeremiah 50:33-34); “Father, if you are willing to take this cup from me, YET not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22-42); and “The winds blew and beat against that house, YET it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:25)

The YET word offers a very important lesson for life and learning as well. It is one of the key concepts that I have used in teaching and in counseling. Failure YET success will come. Permanent perceptions drag us down. A temporary mindset can open new vistas for us. I will never be able to…Yet tomorrow is a new day with new possibilities. My mantra for learning has been “learn to fail or fail to learn”. YET drives us from failure to success, and from the permanent to the temporary.

In my years of teaching, I have observed that the students who struggle the most are those who have not had a “positive failing experience” from which they have learned and grown. Carol Dweck has a model in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, that is very helpful in framing one’s life in a way to address failure and create a positive experience from it. If you have failed a test (or submit where you think that you have failed) and feel that it is a permanent issue for your life, you will find yourself depressed, possessing a negative attitude toward yourself, and the inability to cope with moving forward.

If after failing a test you say to yourself or others, “I am stupid. I will never be able to do well in this course”, you lock yourself into that mindset. If, on the other hand, you feel that your poor performance is a temporary condition and that you have identified the issues of why you didn’t do well, then you will be able to say to yourself, “I didn’t do well on this test, YET I know what I need to do to correct things and do well on the next evaluation.” This attitude will enable you to see life as a challenge but one that you feel confident in addressing as you move forward. Grab a hold of your YET.

People who frame life in a temporary way address issues taking baby steps. That is one of the key tenets of Alcoholic Anonymous that is still the preferred treatment platform for alcoholism today. They stress the mantra, “Take one day at a time.” That approach can also be applied to most problem solving.

The person who has a permanent mindset feels that change is not possible. There is no YET there. All of us feel this way from time to time. This mindset destroys hope. Individuals with permanent mindsets take a long-range view that stifles progress. I once met with a parent who was paralyzed by the thought that her child would not be admitted to Princeton. The child was in first grade. Taking the long-haul perspective is not the way to problem solve. It has no YET.

The work of Edison and Einstein that led to their scientific discoveries illustrates that even for the greatest problem solvers, baby steps and many failures along the way were the reason they achieved so much. There are few overnight successes in life. The people that seem like overnight successes usually combined years of practice or work that met with good luck or providence! They also had plenty of YET.

If you pay close attention you may find yourself using that pivotal word, YET, in life, in learning, and most important in your faith. It always moves us from something challenging to something that is filled with hope and possibility. When I shared this observation with my hand therapist, she said, “You are way ahead of where you should be YET there is so much more that we can accomplish with your hand and wrist! She reminded me to get my YET back!

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