Saying Yes and Saying No
Editor’s Note: Kim Wagner, a newly commissioned missioner describes how she discerned joining FMS’s Overseas Lay Mission program through a series of yeses and nos.
As we draw closer to the end of formation in Washington D.C., I have taken time to recall the first few months of 2023 when I was discerning joining FMS’ Overseas Lay Mission program. I recently read a blog post from Debbie Milton of Becoming More Beautiful that perfectly encapsulates a question that was racking my brain during that time—“When I say yes to something, what am I saying no to?”
I remember sitting at my kitchen table in my house in Portland, Oregon, for three days at the end of March as I participated in FMS’ Discernment Days program. As I watched presentations on FMS and overseas mission, I thought to myself, “What would I be giving up to do this program?” Throughout Discernment Days and a few days after getting invited to Formation in Washington D.C., I wrestled with saying yes to overseas mission. When I thought about joining FMS, the fear of what I was saying no to if I said yes to overseas mission work continuously came up for me. At the time, the idea of participating in a minimum of two years of overseas mission felt difficult. Saying yes would mean saying no to my senses of safety and security at the time—spending time with friends and family at home, a job with a salary, and life in the United States as I knew it.
I got the call inviting me to formation right before the Easter Triduum, and I spent the days following that call in prayer and on the phone with my Dad discerning this decision and reflecting on how I would potentially feel missing out on being at home while living overseas. It was during my prayer before Mass on Easter Sunday that it hit me: I was spending so much time thinking about what I would be missing out on when saying yes to mission work that I hadn’t even begun to think about what I might miss out on by saying no. I realized that I needed to fully consider what I am saying yes to in addition to what I am saying no to when making such a life-altering decision. In saying yes to mission work, I realized that I would be saying yes to some incredible things—working in different ministry roles that would allow me to accompany people in multiple ways, living in an intentional community, the opportunity to build relationships with people of a different culture and nationality than me, and the chance to encounter my faith in new ways—just to name a few.
Through thinking of all the things I would gain through saying yes, I realize now that I was being called to leave my security behind and lean into the unknown to encounter people and God more fully. When these things came to me, I felt peace wash over me; I took that as a sign that I was ready to say yes to FMS and life in overseas lay mission work. These past few months in Formation and intentional community have given me chances to reflect and have reaffirmed my “yes” every day.
As I think about heading home to Kansas City for the holidays soon and preparing to leave for the U.S./Mexico Border in January, I know I may get questions like, “Won’t you miss your family?” While I will miss my family, I hope to lean into the opportunity lying in this question to talk about what I am aware I am saying no to while expanding on how excited I am about what I am saying yes to.
Questions for Reflection: Think of the last big decision you made. What did you need to say no to? What did you need to say yes to? How can considering your “yeses” and “nos” help in your discernment in the future?