Saturday afternoon my daughter approached me with a question. “Mom, can I go play basketball with those boys over there? They are an odd number and could use another player.” The boys across the street shouted and blocked shots, oblivious to the significantly shorter girl who sat on her driveway and watched them.
I controlled my need to tell her all the reasons that seemed like a pretty risky idea and said, “Ok, I don’t see why you can’t at least ask.”
I looked out again a few minutes later (I admit it, I could barely watch) and she had edged out a bit closer to the street but hadn’t ventured to ask yet. I popped my head out and gave her a signal to go. She moved in.
A few minutes later I look out again. She’s right in the middle of the group, playing her heart out. And, a little while later she runs into the house. She’s red faced and out of breath – a huge smile on her face. She had a blast and can’t stop talking about how much fun she had. I give her one big high five. I’m so proud.
I stand there, overwhelmed. This is my kid who was the ONLY one on her basketball team last winter who DIDN’T make one. single. basket. You see, we are not natural athletes. None of us here in this house. But, in her mind that was no reason to keep her from having fun. No fear of stepping out. A basket less season didn’t stop her from asking to play again.
Deep down, I want to protect my kids, my loved ones, from failure. I don’t want to see them hurt. I don’t want to see them mess up. I don’t want to see them rejected. But, I remember when we first had kids, that was one of the things Drew was serious about. We have to let them fail. We have to let them try new things.
And fail they have. Just as we have. But they have taken risks too. AND SURVIVED. I texted my sister while Abbey was out playing basketball. “I wish I had a tenth of her confidence,” I said.
Yesterday, at church, someone stopped me and said, “I read your writing Lisa, it’s very brave.”
“Or stupid,” I replied. (I’m so eloquent, I know.)
Putting yourself out there- it’s risky. Putting myself out here, it’s risky. But I believe that we miss something if we don’t use these moments to be real. Try something new. See something differently. Take a leap. Reach out.
In her blog, Glennon Melton describes a time where she did this quite unintentionally, but it turned around and changed her life. She had joined in on writing a list, 25 things about yourself. But after she had published hers on Facebook, she realized that maybe she shouldn’t have written things like “I’m a recovering alcoholic,” when other people were writing “My favorite game is Bunco!”
But after bravely leaving her list out there, she had an inbox stuffed with messages, people given courage by her risk to and wanted to take their own. So, after this experience, she decided to keep writing the real stuff. It has changed lives.
How are you to be taking risks? I don’t know. That’s a question you have to ask yourself. They don’t have to be big. They can be just a matter of encouraging a total stranger. The man fixing Josh’s glasses at the doctor’s office this week looked at me- out of the blue- and reminded me that I’m doing a good job as a mom. NEW LIFE entered in. It was a gift. It’s hard to put ourselves out there, it’s hard to open ourselves up. But, the result can change your way of seeing things. It can bring life and give life.
As we remember the days after Jesus’s resurrection we see examples of this risk in his own disciples. They risked asking a total stranger to a meal. They had been walking with him on the road to Emmaus and invited him over at the end of the day to sit around the table. They sat down to eat together and something amazing happened.
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24: 20-31
In Macrina Wiederkehr’s book Abide, she says,
I’m grateful that this recognition took place around a table while sharing a meal. Amazing things can happen when we meet around a table. Miracles can take place when we begin to feed each other. Barriers fall away. Eyes open. We see Jesus and one another in a new way and with deeper insight.”
You may fail or get hurt, in fact you probably will. You may not always see things in a new and amazing way. But taking risks could open up a new ways of seeing for you. Look what it did for Jesus’s disciples. I feel like their story is telling us, we have to try.
My risky ten year old daughter is challenging me on this all the time. And, as I remember her ruddy face and beaming smile after a neighborhood basketball game it gives me courage. I may not be the best at things, or I may totally fall on my face in attempting them. But, joy comes in many packages and you’ll never experience that if you don’t put yourself out there and give it all you’ve got. It will most likely surprise you. Taking risks and opening yourself to new ways of looking at things could change your life.
And – it might even be fun.