Are you missing out by answering no or yes too quickly?

Kanti sat outside the patio door watching the frantic goings.  We were executing the pre-visitor routine with military precision.  I vacuumed the floor and Greg followed with the mop.  We were about two hours out from visitor arrival time.  Dinner was in the oven; your nose confirmed it.  All visible surfaces had been dusted, washrooms cleaned, fresh towels put out, windows spot-cleaned, all that remained was to eradicate the house of doggie footprints and hound hair.

We were expecting the extended family for Sunday dinner.  Seventeen people including the half-pints would arrive about five o'clock, just after the sun had set in the west.  Perfect timing to ensure smears on the windows were no longer apparent.  Then the text arrived, "May we bring Tom and Bruce?"  If you know us well and have ever been a guest in our home, you know it wasn't an usual request.

Greg is the consummate entertainer and host, his motto is the more the merrier, so we have fielded many similar requests.  We viewed our home as a gift we were entrusted with, to use for the enjoyment and welcoming of others.  Over the thirty-five years we have been married, we have welcomed many who weren't on the original guest list.  It had never been a problem and I don't recall ever saying no, until the day someone asked to bring Tom and Bruce.

Fortunately, Greg had the good sense to ask me if it was okay that Tom and Bruce joined us.  Normally he would have said yes, then told me. But there was something about the request that set off a realization two more might be two too many.  Don't misunderstand me, Tom and Bruce are wonderful.  I really enjoy having them over, they are entertaining and very charming.  Plus they are good looking.  Tom's full moniker is Tom Selleck.  Come on ladies of my vintage, who wouldn't want Tom Selleck to crash their party?

Normally, I'd say yes to Tom and Bruce without any hesitation.  However, I knew from my physical reaction to hearing the words of the text, I wasn't up for it.

"Tom, and Bruce?  It will be chaos." I squeaked.

"They'll be fine.  They'll be outside the whole time."

We don't normally keep our guests outside but Greg was angling to have Tom and Bruce included in the party.

I argued, "You can't leave them outside the whole time, they won't feel welcome."

"Sure, they'll be okay." he reassured me.

"Yeah, until they wander over to meet Jethro.  No.  Sorry.  I can't deal with it."

And so, we said no.  Well truthfully, I said no, and Greg acquiesced. It was probably the first time in all our years of entertaining we turned guests away.  I confess that I have second guessed that decision several times since. What harm would there have been in welcoming Tom and Bruce?

Our home hums when it is full of guests and dogs.  It was the dog part I got stuck on that day.  I worried about all the wrong things.  I became anxious about the possibility of having four large dogs in the house at the same time.  I fretted about the inevitable paw prints, the additional dog hair, and the general exuberance that would fill our space.  I imagined the grandkids being bowled over by not one or two dogs, but by four.  Every thought I had focused on the negative and I completely missed the positive.

What an honour that my nieces felt they could ask the question. A motherlode of relationship currency was wrapped in the question.  There was probably more to that question than any other visitors asking if they could bring their mother, brother, sister or whomever along to our house.  And I missed it in the moment by saying no because of my fears and insecurities.  Mostly I was concerned about my nearly perfectly planned evening being hijacked by four dogs careening through the house, stealing appetizers off the coffee table, and retrieving shoes from the entranceway. I feared the chaos and I missed out on creating some memorable hum that night.
Bruce & Tom
I watched Shonda Rhimes, Ted Talk about Saying Yes, and it got me ruminating about the moments we miss out on because saying yes might mess up our plan.  She talks about the surprising pleasures she has encountered because she chose to say yes.  She describes a hum which occurs, God's whisper in her ear.  We missed out on a night of magnified hum because I wasn't prepared to say yes.  I recognize that sometimes, no is the right answer.  This week, pause a moment between saying yes or saying no, and simply ask yourself, "Will my answer allow me to hear the hum of God's whisper in my ear?"