“Do you ever feel like you’re trying to be cautious, and it’s costing the Kingdom of God something?” — Donald Miller
Darrell and I just got back from Bob Goff’s Love Does Stuff conference in Tacoma, Washington and the experience was incredible.
The day started off with donuts and coffee, then a bunch of blow-up kitty pools filled up like ball pits, then of course a bounce house (because why not?), a drum line, a MILLION balloons, a slam poet (Propaganda) and then Bob himself, explaining how if you walked into this room and didn’t wish you had a pellet gun you aren’t alive.
There’s no one in the world like Bob.
Then Donald Miller shared why he thinks most of us (himself included) don’t do the stuff love tells us to do.
I’ve been thinking about that ever since. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve spent most of my life trying to be cautious and about how, if anyone who knows me well read that last statement, they would laugh out loud, because they’ve spent most of my life trying to reign me in, get me to slow down, sit down, calm down, and have a realistic perspective about how dangerous the world really is.
I’ve always had this insane risk-taker living inside of me.
And maybe that’s why I’ve spent so much of my life trying to be cautious, because I was scared to “learn the hard way” like everyone said I would, scared to fail and prove them all right. I was scared to live out the ideas that came into my head, scared to take a crazy risk and have it come back void.
And also, I think, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was risking for.
Risk-taking felt like it was this innate part of me, like something I had to stifle and subdue (if I were going to be the “careful” person I should be), like if I were left to my own devices, without discipline, it would come spilling out of me —
But it also always felt sort of empty.
So as I grew up I learned to put it aside.
I learned to sit down, calm down, stay in the country, plant roots, and (“for heavens sake”) put a buffer in my bank account. But you know what’s really weird? Being cautious felt shallow too.
Being cautious actually felt like I was costing the world something, like there was this important part of myself I had put to sleep because I was scared of what it would become. I didn’t have words to say it that way, but the minute Donald Miller shared those words I knew what he meant.
The question I’ve been asking myself now is, “so now what?”
Do I just start taking risks?
How do I measure them?
Am I just supposed to start doing things that make me look crazy?
Here’s the thing. I’m don’t think taking risks just for the sake of taking risks is as glamorous as the movies make it seem. I guess sometimes it can be a good thing. I jumped off a waterfall in Costa Rica once, despite the fact I was terrified, just for the thrill of it.
I lived to tell the story.
Sometimes risks have intrinsic benefits, like a courage muscle we flex as we lead up to the bigger risks life brings.
But ultimately, when we take life risks, the kind of risks where we put everything on the line, I think it matters what we’re risking for.
Jumping off a waterfall is one thing. Selling everything you own and traveling across the country is another.
Adopting two special needs children from another country is still another.
Love will cost us something, and our willingness to take risks, I think, is equivalent to our belief that what we’re risking for matters. We have to want something more important than just ourselves.
I think most of us are risk-takers at heart.
Some of you may cringe at the term, or think I’m wrong. Maybe your whole life you’ve felt scared, or people have blamed you for being too cautious, but I believe we were all made to take risks. I jump off waterfalls and sell my things and move across the country, but maybe you’ve been faithful to the same people or thing, in the same place, for a decade.
I think, deep inside of us, we all want to be a part of a more important story being written, a story bigger than us.
But I think before we can really understand our role in the bigger story, we have to know ourselves, know what matters to us, to know what we’re committed to, no matter what. We have to know what keeps us and grounds us when everything goes to hell because, when you’re taking big risks, everything will.
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