“What is Risk, Baby Don’t Hurt Me”
Wow. That was bad. My fault. Read on…
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. Adventurers who explore the amazon in search of snakes that can crawl up pee-holes can easily relate to this, but that’s not all of us. Hence, why I’m writing this.
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. Personally, I don’t like adhering to standards unless I know that I agree with them. So the question is, which standards and for what reason? For example, 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. 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 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.