“Love at any cost is a bargain. Quite the bargain.” – Johnnyswim
Risk is exciting. But not ideal. Void of all formula, or proven theory. But we NEED it. We need it to feel alive, and we all need it to find ourselves through this world.
Risk can cause momentum or make it disappear, sometimes for a lifetime when fear gets in the way.
I’ve found myself in seasons where I feel like what’s at risk is actually my character, and perhaps even my identity. It’s made me question whether I’m in the spot where I “should” be. This may come out of a time where I need to do something different to make money for my family, or when I’ve made a commitment to an opportunity that has shown itself lucrative at face value. This “feeling” of not being safe is often because I am in a new environment and…well…just don’t feel safe. In other cases, new ventures have felt right from the get-go, and I’ve flourished. But most of the time, not so much. The greenhouse effect, as I’ve heard a friend call it, is where we are in our “bubble.” You know, that place where we just feel safe and don’t have much risk involved. We all have them. This ‘bubble’ can be anything related to comfort, from me sitting on my couch being comfortable without having a job, all the way to being a workaholic and only finding comfort in obsessing over my daily work routine. You see it in politics & religion as well. People adhering to their regurgitated responses and clear need to say that they are in the “right bubble.” BUT there’s no set formula for any given person, hence why we can’t force our means of comfort/ideals on others. This doesn’t mean we should have an excuse for sitting on the couch doing nothing, but you get my point. Not much can be considered black and white.
However, we are formula-craving creatures, so I’ll entertain it for now. *Puts on Steve Urkel glasses*….The common denominator with being in these safe “bubbles” seems to be ritual, or what we know works for us. Sticking to what we “feel/know” to be true about ourselves. So this begs the question, how do we grow into new revelation of what we know to be true? It’s risk. Being open. Being open to what God wants us to discover, instead of latching to ONLY what we already know to be true about Him or ourselves. That’s just clinging to ideals and religion. That’s not relationship. Yes, we DO still need to remember what we know to be true even when we don’t believe it (“I am worth something.” or “I deserve to be happy.”). Yes, God is unchanging, but that doesn’t mean we don’t discover new facets of His character in our lives. Bring the discovery back into your life. Back to RISK…Ok…so why is risk so scary for some people? Why is risk so exciting to think about for others who just “seem” to embrace it? Or if the word “risk” doesn’t resonate with you, maybe the term “ideal situation”. In all cases, our ideal situation involves some risk anyway. Read on…
So, here you are. Dreaming of better days, or just what you’d like to see happen. Whether we are optimists or pessimists, we still dream about ideal situations. The optimist is hopeful on what tomorrow will bring. Pessimists are naturally drawn to the worst case or negative connotation of what tomorrow will be, and even though they have an ideal situation, they focus on the negative. Obviously its better to draw towards hopefulness, and not being run down by our fears. But, here’s the thing…if both the optimist and pessimist lack application, the outcome is the same. Neither gets anything done, and they just worship their ideal situation and remain frustrated on how to get there…that’s what makes me want to write this right now. As I started this blog, I was thinking about the fact that, as humans, we NEED goals and vision. We NEED standards to shoot for. We don’t adhere to standards that we don’t agree with. So the question is, which standards and for what reason? Very small example of a goal-related standard…running on the treadmill. Personally, if I don’t know how far or how long I am going to be running, my performance decreases dramatically. Sometimes in half. But when I can see how close I am getting to my goal, those last minutes are really refreshing to think about…KNOWING that it will all be over soon let’s me push through. The visual that I get when nearing the end goes like this…I can see a vision of the protein shake…usually chocolate peanut butter flavor…I can actually taste it, despite the insane burning sensation in my legs. Had I not had this upcoming goal/standard, all I would be thinking about is the burning of my legs and how many more seconds I can go without going crazy because I’m so uncomfortable in this current state/environment. Simple side note: Even today I did 2.5 hrs of yard work with a friend and we talked the whole time, and it flew by because I wasn’t thinking about raking leaves b/c I was having a rad time with my friend. I had a goal and decided to call my buddy, and it yielded great results b/c I knew it would be better with someone else helping me: A finished yard, and a full heart. If only life was that simple, right?
But…Just like familiar environments, habits, goals can become familiar. Familiar to the point of them becoming the norm. In which case, they aren’t standards anymore and we put our hope in something else. Its a dry well. Even with people…relationships can become stagnant. And all of a sudden the run becomes too easy. Becomes too comfortable. The workout isn’t nearly as good b/c we are becoming too content, and realize that something needs to change. So we change variables…we increase our goal, time, distance, our ability to not have a girl/boyfriend (dump them), whatever we feel like doing in order to reach the outcome we want to reach or free us up to find new standards. Again, a seemingly easy concept to grasp, right? So why don’t we do this with other goals that we have in life? We usually revert back to what’s comfortable rather than finding new standards. If I’m in a season in my life where the results aren’t what I want, then why do I usually feel the need to revert BACK to what’s comfortable? Why don’t I ever change other “familiar” things around me, like my environment, habits, and yes, even the people around me? Obviously some of these things change automatically throughout life (job, friends, tragic events, aging, etc.), probably more than we would like to imagine anyway…but I’m talking about PURPOSEFULLY experimenting with these factors. This is a scary thought because most of what I’m talking about switching around is what makes us “feel” like our character/identity is intact, like I said at the beginning of this blog…That moment when we don’t feel that all is right with the our own inner world when things are changed up. But that’s bound to happen anyway, so why not play with the variables when we can muster up the courage? Its because we need security. But not as much as we think sometimes. Just try it.
Grow Deep Roots:
Its obvious that we need the nurturing of ourselves both psychologically and spiritually as far as always having something that is comfortable, that feels like home, etc. But what if the risks in our lives, much like a tree going from a greenhouse into a garden, allowed us to plant DEEPER roots into a brave new world, somewhere we aren’t ruled by our own absolute controlled environments. Ok, now you really think I’m weird. But that’s the greenhouse analogy…A plant’s roots can only go so deep when it’s in a controlled environment, where all of the variables are the same…so what would happen if that plant were to be planted outside, where its roots can grow deeper, stronger, and the tree would be that much taller. What kind of fruit would it produce? Yes, there’s more risk outside the greenhouse, the plant could wither, and maybe even die…but the plant would’ve never had the chance to grow into the plant that it was meant to be. That’s a risk worth taking in my opinion. The plant can now grow in the environment he was created for! Now, not everything is life and death, but that’s the ultimate fear with risk anyway. Which is why we have to choose on some level to live with an amount of associated risk. What in your life deserves to be pursued after? To take risks for? Who or what do you want to take a risk for? We now have permission to dream.
What Determines My Goals/Risk
Once you accept that there will be risk amidst your fears, find your goals for this next season of your life, however long that may be. What “should” your goals look like? Well, the pressure is off…Just be led by your passions and what you see happening, not what you think someone else would want you to set as a goal. Sometimes outside influences are true, but you have to set those goals for yourself if you are going to put the effort in. Most goals come from standards set by those around us. Standards can be good because they give us something to aim for. Something to START with. Not to worship. The standard is NOT the end goal…that’s just imitating someone else’s accomplishment. But you can start with that. Just realize that the standard that exists in front of you (to imitate) is not your promise. Don’t be afraid to embrace the mystery of not knowing where you are headed…that’s the adventure part…Point-of-references/signs will pop up, and it will show a greater measure than you think…and you will create new goals as you go find what’s next. Don’t be afraid to wait, either. Not every opportunity is the right opportunity, so don’t jump into everything. Find the risks that you were meant to take…even if you miss them at first…its better than staying in the greenhouse all of your life, trust me.
Wow, very well put. I see his heart in this too, I wish we could bridge gaps in between a lot of other subcultures so eloquently like this article does with this certain subject. Way to speak your mind!
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT !!!!
READ MICHAEL GUNGOR’S FOLLOW UP BLOG TO HIS POST ‘THE PROBLEM WITH THE CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY !!!
Date: Monday, December 9, 2013
As promised earlier, after the incredible buzz around his blog post below in the past week (there have been more than 360,000 views of this blog post in the past 7 days) Michael Gungor expressed to me a desire to write a follow-up blog post to this original post he wrote almost 2 years ago.
I am excited to announce that Michael emailed me his follow-up blog post that he just finished two days ago, and you can read it immediately, by clicking on the link below.
When you are in a touring band, there is a lot of time that is…
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I think our idea of finding common ground is skewed, you know it well…the need to identify with someone. We all need it because we are relational and crave relationship! We do it to let ourselves know if we are on the right track or not. For affirmation. I’ve just done a terrible job at relating to people sometimes, especially when I’ve been in an identity crisis, which is why I’m writing this post. When we are trying to be ourselves and the person we want to be, the standard exists subconsciously to imitate. We default to that, especially when we can only see our “ideal situation.” To simply put…We see the end goal and we follow the way that other people went to get there. We MISS creativity and that’s where LIFE is.
We hold on to that outcome to the point of embracing the old phrase that “perception is reality.”
Are we hyping up the PERCEPTION of God so much that we can’t tell the real moments from the fake ones? I mean don’t get me wrong, He is pretty incredible! Just saying. Maybe I can embellish on that later.
With success in life:
Are we hyping up OURSELVES to fit a mold and just stand for the things that we think we should stand for to please others?
Back to the common ground…
We all believe at some level that we need common ground with someone in order to hold a decent conversation, especially at social gatherings. Its hard not to hold to the expectation that you should know where you are going when you are telling someone about your life. In any kind of ladder we are climbing, whether its in your corporate job, your friends at school, or in my case, my constant need to try to “be” somebody. In the music industry, its all about controlling perception in a lot of circles. Letting someone else know that you know what you’re talking about. That you know who’s on the charts and how they got there. That you know the formula. But what’s interesting is that, at these gatherings that I frequent, a lot of people aren’t talking about the REASON that they got into the music business in the first place….Their passions.
At the end of the day, people crave authenticity and real-ness. Yes, we get caught up in the fake, trying to be somebody, or do what this guy did, game….But God is there in the everyday and the mundane. There are more exciting things than the battle of letting people know that you are involved in exciting things. You aren’t identified by the things that you do. You are identified by the things that you love! So just talk about those things!
The things that you WANT to build will be built if we just learn to let go and trust that it will happen in some form. Its that “letting go” that actually allows us to have the creativity to do it!
The emphasis is being comfortable in your own skin. Who you are today out of what you have learned in your life about yourself. Not defined by your past, and not dependent on what will magically come your way tomorrow. Get away from the what-ifs that rule your identity and trying to build a temple for others to see…just build within the temple that already exists…yourself.
Like the unconditional love of a relative/spouse, I feel like God wants to see us pursue our passions that He put inside of us. This includes ANY passion…Arts, construction, brain surgery, fathering, being a spouse, loving people, collecting Reese’s pieces, etc. The big question is: Could we authentically create without manufacturing our approach into what “mold”/”perception” we fit into, or what we are told that we fit into? Meaning, what does it look like to create without getting caught up in fearing not being able to measure up to whatever our standard is? What if there was no standard? Then would we really be so worried about what the outcome looks like? Standards only exist b/c we put them on a pedestal for way too long. Sure, the standard might be what drives us, which is a cool thing, but fear gets in the way all too easily.
Aside from natural fears that the human mind battles, what I think we cling to most is being understood. Which is why we imitate so much for the sake of relevance. But where is your true identity? Bridge the gap. Don’t be different for the sake of being different, but for the idea of finding who you are no matter your age or place in life. At least with music, the vulnerability it takes to write down lyrics and sing them in front of people who might or might not “get it” is scary at face value. I am just now starting to be able to do it on a very small level. But I’m getting somewhere. I don’t know where, but life is to be LED by what’s genuine, and true passion, not DRIVEN by social norms, guilt, or other’s affirmation alone.
What if we all took risks with the understanding that it’s ok to be misunderstood? And then that moment comes where we aren’t necessarily appealing to the masses, but someone “gets it” and it helps them on a level that we could’ve never expected as an outcome. Or maybe it does actually appeal to the masses? But are we so worried that we don’t appeal to everyone that the one person we help isn’t enough for us?
In a world where we all are climbing some kind of social/success/career, is our identity REALLY rooted in what we “produce?” What we do for a living? NO! You can’t lean on other’s affirmation for all eternity as a means of being happy. Since we are relational creatures, no wonder that translates so easily into our relationships and doing everything that we can think of to attract the other person, often at the expense of our own personal passions! Same goes for grabbing onto other’s expectations, climbing the career ladder as well. What if we started digging a little more to find what makes us comfortable in our own skin. Starting outside of our career, obviously. Find your true passions, even if it’s a hobby. Isn’t that what your spouse wants most for you anyway? I love seeing Katelyn get excited about things that she is passionate about! I have, however, latched onto what I thought were “duties” of mine and if there was a conflict with her passion, I’ve unfortunately stolen her passion in that moment by immediately telling her why she can’t do this/that. Especially if it is career related. But hey, life is crazy and we all make mistakes and we learn from them. Who would I be if I didn’t have a wife who has shown me grace and exhibited patience and love in those moments where I’m sure I hurt her by undermining her passion for how it immediately affected me & the season that we were in.
So…embrace your passion. Because others want that for you, as you should them. It doesn’t need to be your life’s calling, your end-all be all. It “can” be. But certainly doesn’t have to be. We can all exhibit good character and love outside of what we produce. What do you need to take ownership to feel empowered? Something with just your spouse/relative/friend? Or maybe you lean on their affirmation so much that you need to own something of your own so that that relationship can continue to be healthy?
What is it that exists in your heart to be passionate about? Perhaps outside of your monthly, weekly, or DAILY expectations? Dudes, get a man cave. Have friends over for a drink. Talk about life. Find a way to let someone else in, starting with those closest to you. Pray with your wife. Or seemingly other awkward things. Learn the guitar, drums, or just hit a tambourine once a day if it makes you feel like a rock star. That’s what Guitar Hero was made for…Women, same to you minus the man cave stuff. Maybe we would all make better music, better husbands, better fathers, etc. if we could lessen the need to measure up, even in a world where people WILL size you up when you walk into a room. Greet them with a smile. Don’t ask “what do you do”? Instead ask, what are you passionate about? And see what they say. And love each other, not because it’s a Christian “duty,” or just bc we “should,” but because we can celebrate the fact that we actually are all different, beating hearts with crazy awesome passions. There’s freedom in that mystery. And God is there.
We can all be together in a “common” cause of spreading love out of our individual identities & what we are passionate about. Christ died for the act of proving God’s righteousness, and also for our sins. You will make mistakes. It will be messy. Some of us might even cling to new ideals that might/might not be healthy and get off of the beaten path…but personally I think that that is better than being in the religious mindset of regurgitating traditions and forcing those on others. Always be open to what is genuine and what is truth, and truth will reveal itself to you. Not to say that the “gospel” is open to complete interpretation, but that also doesn’t mean that we understand it all in context, even with a seminary degree, much less the need to preach behaviors over just loving someone. Where is the trust in that? So again, be open to what you feel is leading you in your spirit, not necessarily through what others say that truth is. Don’t identify yourself just by the things that you do, but what you are led by the Spirit to be passionate about. Be confident in that and embrace others’ passions. The motivation will be that glory will be sent out with the thankfulness that we are all created to…well…create! Do right by your soul and those around you by stepping into whatever that is. Find a way to be confident, but also teachable. Find your identity. Then do it again. And again.
One last thing: God never changes. We do, however, discover different facets of Him, which is the joy of doing this over and over again. Heavy life events seem to bring identity crisis’s. Have an outlet and know how God created you to minister to your soul in these moments through your passions. And remember, He isn’t the CAUSE of your misery (to teach you a lesson), but He is there to help make a crappy circumstance bring life to you and those around you. Things just happen. We are a product of our own crappy world. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault, much less God’s will. Even if that person does from cancer, or that relationship fails due to unforeseeable events. Fear not in those things, but fear instead leaving the desires that God put in your heart behind as childhood dreams. Doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be an astronaut, but…Interpret that desire and go for it. So find your outlet when you don’t know what else to do. For me, I pick up a guitar and just play without thinking. Or I pray if I am able. Sometimes I don’t know what to pray so I just pick up my guitar. It was the first thing that I really spoke through as a child when I felt I had no voice yet. I thank God for that every time I pick it up now. And when my head is clear, I thank Him even more and forget about why my day was so terrible.
You are MORE than what you produce, and never think otherwise! That beating heart inside your chest was meant to beat for something. Let it find it’s way amidst the chaos around you. It’s much more simple than you or I think sometimes! As long as it’s something that fulfills you. Play Xbox with your son, and let him laugh at how terrible you are at Lego Batman. Or if you don’t have a son, maybe your outlet is…that’s right…Lego Batman.