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And Yet

By Jennie LaFortune

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I had a clenched jaw smile moment at work the other day. I stood next to a coworker and tried to make friendly conversation. Like a good game of tennis, we volleyed questions back and forth covering the usual points of work and weather, then the game amped up to family life. I learned she had two kids, and had the first unexpectedly in her late teens. She then asked me how many kids I had. As a single adult, I have had a decent amount of practice with this question. I usually say something like, “oh, I don’t have any kids.” And so, I did, to which she said, “did you just decide you didn’t want any?”

Now I realize this may seem like a fine or benign response, but it bugged me. I was not mad at her; I didn’t think her rude, just – maybe unaware? Her statement held finality in my mind. It implied that my story in the having kids department had somehow ended without me knowing. That here I was waiting for my page to turn and people already knew my ending.

I used to tack on yet at the end of the sentence, but I lost that word somewhere along my way. And the truth is, I still could have kids. I’m not in my 20s, my window is closing, I’d be an “old” mom by Utah standards having kids in my mid to late 30s, but gosh dangit, I’m going to say yet. As much as I tell myself I’m not fazed, I am fine in my situation, that my life will be full if never becomes a reality, and that I have a perfect brightness of hope, it bothers me.

I think I, we, the single, the motherless, really anyone who feels like they may have to bury or surrender any kind of righteous desire has muddied emotions of faith, anger, and apathy. But the last thing we want to feel from someone is pity. And in that moment, it wasn’t my coworker who pitied me, but I who pitied a part of my own story – and that made me cringe.

As a teacher, our department had a rule: don’t accept “I don’t know”, or “I can’t”, or “I’m not good” statements without prompting the student to say yet at the end of the sentence. That one little word can change the story and narrative completely. You see, yet is a very important word that holds layers of the unknown and faith. That one little word can change a narrative or add wonder to someone gazing into any trial. It’s a phrase that almost demands some reliance and a good old ‘to be continued.’ So the next time you’re tempted to end your situation with finality, add a yet or an and yet, and leave it at that and just see what happens.

How does language affect your faith?

About Jennie LaFortune

(Prose Board) is from Salt Lake. Figuring life out one book, beach, road trip, museum, and front porch conversation at a time. Perpetually on the search for the best dark chocolate, finest pen, and greenest field. When she's not teaching high school, she loves to spend time with friends and family, the shore of any ocean, holding her friends' babies, or taking long neighborhood walks.

10 thoughts on “And Yet”

  1. I didn't get married until I was thirty. We have five children, the last was born when I was forty and a half. My grandmother had fifteen children, the last born when she was forty-six. You have time to marry and have children, and I hope you are blessed in that way. Never give up hope and faith.

  2. I married at 30 and have 2 kids. My grandma married at 29 and had 8 kids in addition to the 2 that came with her spouse. But my Aunt never married and when she passed away (damn cancer), she had over 60 nieces and nephews with spouses and kids on the stand singing for her. She changed my life in ways I wouldn't let my mom.
    I really like the idea of adding: yet. My baby doesn't sleep well, yet. My house isn't clean yet. I haven't written a book, yet. I haven't showered today, yet!

  3. The addition of yet is powerful, like a semi-colon or … I think the language that I use for my faith or my goals (or achievements and failures for that matter) has more weight than I normally consider. Thank you for the addition of a 3 letter word of promise to my thoughts and perception!

  4. I recently listened to an interview with Sheri Dew where I was impressed that she said she was not married yet, didn't have children yet. How courageous and liberating to use that small word! I loved it.

    My grandfather gently corrected me a few years ago from saying "I'm lucky that…." to "I'm blessed". That small change has made me rethink situations again and again. It takes courage to say I'm blessed in a non-church setting, but I love having the opportunity to testify of Christ in this way.


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