What’s in a Name? – Choosing “Yellow”

yellowYou may have noticed that the references to “We Can Work it Out” on the site have been changed to “Yellow.” But since there are no references to the color yellow, or stoplights, or cowardice, or yellow journalism, or really anything yellow-related in the film, I wanted to explain where the name came from and what it means.

But first, what happened to “We Can Work it Out?” That was the title we’d chosen for the original version, and it just didn’t seem to fit as well in the newer version. So, how did we come up with “Yellow”? Honestly, it started out as a joke. We joked that we should name it something that’s the opposite of Courageous. Nothing against the movie, or any men it may have encouraged by it to be more involved husbands and fathers. But for men who already have that as a goal, it isn’t very helpful—in fact, it can be discouraging. So I jokingly thought of yellow—as in cowardly— as being the opposite.

And then, it just stuck. At first, I didn’t exactly know why; then the image of a yellow light in a stoplight came to my mind. That’s what made the idea crystalize. You know that moment when a light turns yellow and you have to decide whether to gun it keep going or stop? All of Max’s conflicts in the film are about living in some sort of tension. The tension between work and home, between being a disciplinarian and a friend, a leader and a listener. It’s easy to portray two sides of an issue as black and white, or green and red. It’s much harder to learn to embrace and live in “the yellow.” If I decide as a driver that every time the light turns yellow I’m going to keep moving through the intersection, it’s not going to end well. So then, is the answer to always stop? I suspect that will be equally cause problems. No, each instance requires its own decision.

That’s what Max has to learn in Yellow. And that’s what we have to learn—and re-learn—day after day. It’s tempting to oversimplify our decisions, to turn life into a formula, but that almost always ends in legalism. Rather, let’s choose the harder, yet simpler, way of seeking the Holy Spirit’s direction to help us decide whether we need to go or stop in each instance.