Lisa Hendey and I discuss her book The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living. Learn more about the book here.
PETE: Your new book, Grace of Yes, seems to have become a banner holder for a saying yes to God movement. Why is having the grace of yes so important in our lives?
LISA HENDEY: Thanks for inviting me into this conversation Pete.
The more work that I do around The Grace of Yes, the more I realize that my “Yes” to God is at the heart of my existence. Giving myself fully to God’s will for my life fuels my work, my relationships, my intellectual pursuits and the way I view the world around me. When I give a full and worthy “Yes”, it motivates me to live more generously in the world—to share the best of what God has blessed me with in a world greatly in need of love. Each of us has a unique “Yes”, but as Catholic Christians, we’re called to emulate our Blessed Mother’s “Fiat” in giving our lives to the service of God and others.
PETE: Was it difficult writing about your own struggles saying yes, and what advice can you give those who face similar struggles?
LISA HENDEY: This book is quite personal, and I tried to be very transparent, especially with my own struggles. And I do struggle with this concept of living “generously”. When I write in the book about the “virtues for generous living”, I’m not speaking solely of being a financial giver. Instead, this idea of giving our “Yes” to God and others means venturing into a world greatly in need. And at times, that need can feel overwhelming. For those of us who desire to “fix” every problem or need, sometimes the grace of our “Yes” comes with learning to more fully trust God’s plan.
In the book, I cover the ways in which integrity and humility are a part of living generously. I think many of those who have read the book relate with some of my struggles in living a life of integrity in the digital age. In the work on humility in the book, I share the mental and emotional connections I’m trying to make between humility and forgiveness. I’ve had many readers share with me that this portion of the book has been a gift for them as well.
PETE: We live in an extremely self-centered society of “me” first. This mentality begins at a very early age through public schooling that focuses on making sure “you are happy”. In saying this one of the thoughts behind the grace of yes is that we put ourselves last and worry about the happiness of others first. How can your book aide in correcting this?
LISA HENDEY: I honestly don’t think we need to “Put ourselves last”. Self-care and healthy emotional relationships are a big part of being able to fully live out our “Yes” in this world. What I advocate for in the book though is a mentality that looks to “err on the side of generosity”. And I honestly believe that if each of us did this in simple, everyday acts of kindness in our own small parts of the world, that we could truly create change. The more I see the world through the prism of this “Yes” mentality, the more I’ve found evidence of amazing stories of individuals who through their generous spirit have made a true difference in their communities.
PETE: What is your greatest hope for this book?
LISA HENDEY: I pray that in reading this book, readers will come into a greater sense of connection with their own “Yes” to God’s will for their lives, even if this pushes them beyond their comfort level. I hope that in reading my story, they will more prayerfully discern the amazing ways in which God is working in and through them. I hope that with the questions and prayers that end each chapter, they will move beyond a simple reading of this book into a profound consideration of what “The Grace of Yes” means in their lives.
PETE: Enquiring minds want to know……what’s up with the goldfish on the cover?
LISA HENDEY: It seems that from the moment the cover was unveiled, people couldn’t stop asking about him. The goldfish—christened “Fiat” in a contest we hosted recently–has taken on a life of his own, as has the “Y” Martini Glassish Container he appears to spring from on the book cover. When you see the “real” cover, you will be amazed at how my golden buddy appears to literally jump from the page.
Since so many of you have been asking, I’ve been pondering the cover goldfish’s relationship to what lies within the pages of The Grace of Yes. It seems to me that this is his/her story:
The Grace of Yes is all about giving our full, beautiful and worthy “YES!” to God with our lives. Living generously seems to me to be a tangible sign of this “Yes, Lord!” When we realize that we are loved beyond measure by a God who created us to share that love with the world around us, we can’t help but want to share the Good News. But talking isn’t enough… Loving God with all of our being enables us to live up to all that God has created us to be. With God, all things are possible. In God’s love, the limits of our lives know no bounds.
You may think this sounds like exaggeration. I’m here to tell you that I believe it is true, because I have witnessed the bounty of God’s generous love in my own life and in our family. God’s limitless love showered upon us doesn’t mean that we will never know trials or hardship. But the older I become, the more I experience in this life, the more I firmly believe in God’s capacity to work wonders in our world, with and through us.
So if we are little goldfish, and we believe in the true power (and GRACE) of our “Yes”, no vessel can contain our deep desire to share God’s love and mercy bountifully with the world around us. We must leap beyond our limits, ready to take on the world around us and love it as God does. With God’s love, with his endless generosity towards us, our own love can also be shared limitlessly with those most in need — whether they are half a world away or sitting on the couch next to us.
That’s it. That’s the story of Fiat the Goldfish.
PETE: Time for my signature ending question. This is a blog about books. What is currently on your bookshelf to read?
LISA HENDEY: I’m so blessed Pete. Like you, I frequently review books for our blog so I have a constant influx of new books. Right now, I am currently reading The Maid of Orleans: The Life and Mysticism of Joan of Arc by Sven Stolpe, Francis: Pope of Mercy by Elisabetta Piqué, Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas by Peter Kreeft, and Love is Our Mission—the preparatory catechesis for the World Meeting of Families.