A counselor once told me that men are 15 year olds inside grown up bodies. He didn’t share his theory about women, but I’d say we’re a lot like Jr. Highers in grown up bodies. Insecure, nervous to connect in meaningful ways with people or dreams that carry a measure of risk.
In January, I shared that my One Word for 2015 is “closer” (as in proximity). Storms these past few years had left me in a boat “in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and [we] were fighting heavy waves” (see Matthew 14:24). And, like impulsive Peter, I’d blurted, “God, if it’s really you there in the storm, tell me to come to you… on the water!” (see Matthew 14:28).
And I stepped onto the cold liquid unknown, assured of only this: life is never easy, so I’d rather be closer to God on waves than stuck in the sinking boat of what feels safe.
You know that saying, “Be careful what you wish for?”
- I’ve launched a book that’s a risk for my confidence. It outlines the I-so-don’t-have-it-all-together nature of raising two daughters with disabilities, and has me talking about that on the radio for interviews 5-10 times a week (so I can’t pretend I ever have it together.)
- I’ve built relationships that are risks for my heart. As a member of a women’s philanthropic organization—in which the median age is 20-30 years my senior—I’m choosing to be in relationships with women (which is already risky… remember? Jr. High?) who are in the season of life where discussion of mental and physical decline or death is never far afield. They have amazing stories and such compassion for the community. I love to learn from and serve with these dear ones, . . . and I’m choosing to love people I know I will lose through the years.
- I’ve celebrated my oldest’s 13th birthday… which is a risk for my everything. I saw a news report recently about an adult with mental illness who was tragically shot by police after his mom called for backup to help him get to a psychiatric facility. She’d made that same call hundreds of times over the last 20 years with him. As my daughter blew flames from candles on cupcakes and entered the teen journey, I wanted to be all happy, but couldn’t escape the truth that I have a teen with a mental illness. And I will one day have an adult with mental illness. Do you think I ever go a week without falling on my face before God, begging him to protect my family from being *that* news story someday?
Friend, these circumstances feel even less safe than the crises that made me risk jumping ship to get closer to God!
I feel exposed. So incredibly at risk for loss, for sinking into the waves. I look back at my little boat flailing in the storm and actually find myself wishing I was back inside.
We do that, right? Wish for the familiar, even if it wasn’t that great?
Then I go for a run around a local lake, praise music flowing through headphones into my soul, views like this around me
- It was never safe in the boat.
- It didn’t feel risky there, but that’s because it wasn’t living.
Living—really living, and loving—is worth the risk, friend.
It’s worth the risk to love those we know we’ll lose—whether to a move to a new state, a months-long deployment, or the end of life. It’s worth the risk to be vulnerable and honest—and through that, to give others around us permission to be known and loved. It’s worth the risk to invest in our kids, without the promise their lives will turn out how we hope.
In those risks, we truly live. We take up our cross to follow God. We become disciples, not just people who nod heads at God’s teaching and walk back into the “safe,” the reasonable… the sinking boat.
What risk might be tugging at you, inviting you to step out of the boat today?